Saturday, August 27, 2005
Sleepwear News no more?
You will be missed, Teddy-With-The-Cut-Out-Nipples Herald.
Why We'll Be Changing Our Name
When the bloggers who started this company first came together it was almost natural we would call ourselves Pajamas Media. It was a playful tip of the hat to that moment when bloggers exposed the misreporting of CBS anchor Dan Rather. At that time, an ex-executive for CBS tried to dismiss us as riffraff in "pajamas." But the bloggers were right, CBS was wrong, Rather retired (without apologizing) and the rest is history.
But as we have gone forward putting together this company, it has become clear to us that we do not wish to be defined merely as gadflies in opposition to mainstream media. We owe our readers and our colleagues something bigger, an alternative to the structures we have lived with all our lives. It's not enough to criticize. We also have to build something new. To do that, we needed a name that would allow us to grow. And that name we are in the process of deciding.
Let us assure you that whatever it may be, we do not intend to lose our sense of fun or to forget our raffish roots. We only want to be more and hope you will join us in that quest.
Earlier, deeper thoughts and background here.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Just one little sentence
The sentence that Graham was fired for was clearly wrong and can't be justified. But if you read his entire discussion of the issue, he talked about the fact that the vast majority of Muslims are anti-terrorist, and the world's Muslims need to reclaim their religion from the nuts. Taken as a whole, what he said was sensible and mainstream; unfortunately, he included one inflammatory sentence along the way. Unfortunate, yes. But it shouldn't be a career-destroying error.
Just one little sentence, that's all. Calling all muslims terrorists.
BASE CLOSING [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The Commission has voted this morning in favor of closing Walter Reed. We've said this before: Regardless of the merits of just merging it with Bethesda, such a bad p.r. move.
Bad PR. That's the problem. That's always the problem. See, the issue is not treating wounded soldiers in a world-class facility, as opposed to leaving them in a decrepit, outdated place. The problem is that closing Walter Reed somehow makes the administration (?) look bad. Forget the fact that Rumsfeld himself recommended the closure. From the Washington Post:
Before the vote, Commission Chairman Anthony Principi described Walter Reed as an aging facility that needs to be modernized. He said soldiers coming back from Iraq "deserve to come back to 21st century medical care." He said that building a new state-of-the-art hospital was a "no-brainer."
Makes K-Lo's comments all the more bewildering, but it lets you know where her priorities are.
Her earlier, similarly unexplained "bad PR" comments here.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
InstaPundit: Fast, Loud and Wrong
AP REPORTERS GHOST-WRITING for Cindy Sheehan?
Well, no [scroll to the bottom to understand] But Ms. Sheehan and the reporters thank you for your InstaSlime.
Topic for discussion: Is Glenn Reynolds's brain secretly wired to the RNC email blaster?
P.S. I'm not related to the "John Miller" referenced in AP story.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
How quickly they forget
..."[T]he founder and the leader of the Christian Coalition proposes that modern world history has been largely determined by a two-centuries-old conspiracy by Bavarian Illuminati, Freemasons, Communists, and Wall Street financiers. Central to the conspiracy has been a succession of Jews, ranging from eighteenth-century Rothschilds in Frankfurt to Moses Hess and the American banker Paul Warburg."
As Lind notes, even John Podhoretz himself had to acknowledge that Robertson was at the minimum guilty of trafficking in anti-Semitic conspiracies. But that didn't stop the right from rallying around Robertson. Now, of course, people like Brit Hume and Mort Kondracke sit on Fox News and dismiss Robertson as a washed-up old has-been. But that wasn't the feeling ten years ago.
Here's the New York Times's lede:
Pat Robertson, the conservative Christian broadcaster, has attracted attention over the years for lambasting feminists, "activist" judges, the United Nations and Disneyland.
Now Mr. Robertson has set off an international firestorm by saying on his television show that the United States should kill the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, a leftist whose country has the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East.
It's all about packaging
Again, supporters of the war can do our bit to try to change minds. But the biggest megaphone in the country belongs to President Bush - and much depends on whether he uses it well or badly.
He is using it very badly indeed.
Recently I asked an administration official about the highly generalized, same old, same old quality of the president's Iraq speeches. "I don't think that's fair," the official responded. "It may be the sound bite you hear on TV, but I think if you read the speeches, he talks about more. He puts it in context."
The official continued: "When things are not going well, you always hear that you have a communications problem. Sometimes you have a facts-on-the-ground problem."
I think it's telling that the war-backers say the major problem is not that the war is being poorly prosecuted or executed (a "facts-on-the-ground problem), but that the President just needs to start talking about Iraq in a way that would assuage the fears of his fellow Americans or cherry-pick postive news. I think that says a whole lot.
For instance, Frum:
The president could have made news yesterday by itemizing the reasons to regard Iraq more positively than most journalists do. He could have ticked off some of the achievements daily posted on the centcom.mil site. (Here's the latest.) He could have teased details even out of the mainstream media. (Mickey Kaus the other day noted that the reliably dour Robin Wright of the Washington Post casually mentioned in the course of her latest down-beater that Iraq has gone on a car-buying boom that has put a million new cars on the road since liberation. Kaus: "A 'car-buying boom'--another shocking failure! Don't they know about global warming?")
Interesting turn of phrase. "Car-buying boom."
Monday, August 22, 2005
They never learn
Another thing I can confidently predict is that after this article appears activists on the left will put Hugh Hewitt forward as an example of the well-oiled quality of the Republican media operation, because of the efficiency and prolixity of his efforts to disseminate the Party's message. If bloggers can respond to political developments within seconds, it must be O.K. for me to speed up the cycle of discourse just one more click and defend Hewitt in advance against this as yet unmade charge.
Actually, I can confidently predict that this prediction is wrong, and that none of this will happen, at least not in the blogosphere. This is because the New Yorker does not provide an on-line version of the piece, so it cannot be linked to, it cannot be discussed, and may as well have never been written. Just another example of how, I'm afraid, the old-time media just does not "get it." If I've learned anything in the last few months of blogging, it's that this article would have made the major rounds, and would have likely exposed a good many people to The New Yorker who might otherwise not have been inclined to read it.
Hewitt's thoughts here.
I experienced a similar situation after writing a piece on Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine. So I pulled it off Lexis and threw it on this blog. Nyah.
P.S. The more I think about it, the more I think Lemann missed out on portraying Hewitt's bellicose ways. He may be a nice guy on the radio and in person, but he is, I submit, a hack and ideologue on his blog. See here, here, and here for more.
Writes John Cole (a right-libertarian, from what I can tell):
His blog reads like Pravda on the Potomac and his radio show is really one of the best right-wing radio shows- the contrast is really, from my perspective, amazing...On his blog, though, it just seems to be partisan shit-slinging and re-writes of Ken Mehlman RNC press releases, so even when I think he is mostly right, it pisses me off.
I think that about nails it.
UPDATE: To see more of Cole batting Hewitt around the ears read both here and here.
On wrestling, Ken Mehlman and Hillary
My son had a birthday today, and, without any encouragement or enthusiasm from me, ordered the World Wrestling Entertainment's Summer Slam extravaganza on pay per view TV, live from Washington, D.C. I watched a couple of absurdly theatrical matches, in the most recent of which The Undertaker was upset by somebody or other. After the bout, the announcer said there were both Republicans and Democrats in the house. Whereupon the camera went to Ken Mehlman and his date (I think), followed by Ed Gillespie and some or all of his family, including a young girl who was obviously enjoying the proceedings. So I felt a little better about my son enjoying such low-brow entertainment.
Oh, yes--the Democrat in the house? Hillary Clinton.
Did anyone catch who, precisely, this person was with Mehlman? Just curious.
Report, don't cheerlead
The saddest thing is that Judge Posner's market determinism leaves no room for the other dynamics I've witnessed in my 35 years in newspapers: the idealism of reporters who think they can make the world better, the intellectual satisfaction of puzzling through a complicated issue, the competitive gratification of being first to discover a buried story, the pride in striving to uphold a professional code of fair play, the quest for peer recognition and, yes, the feedback from attentive and thoughtful readers.
Look, I'm going to have to agree with the Limbaughs of the world on this: If you want to make the world a better place, become an NGO or volunteer at a soup kitchen or run for public office. Don't become a reporter. If you're a reporter-advocate, no matter how noble the cause, you muddy your own reporting. [Full disclosure. I frequently contribute to the NYT]
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Another great Corner moment
BEST-EDITED NEWSPAPER IN AMERICA? [Peter Robinson]
A sentence from the Judge Crater story in Saturday's New York Times:
In her notes, some of which were scribbled in the margins of more recent copies of The Daily News, Mrs. Ferruci-Good wrote that her husband told her that Frank Burns, the taxi driver, told him that he had picked up the 41-year old judge the night he disappeared after dining at Billy Haas's chophouse on West 45th Street in Midtown, the official said.
Posted at 11:23 AM
BAGDAD JIM [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
pins bronze stars.
Posted at 11:22 AM
The NYT may not be the best-edited paper around, but I bet they can correctly spell the capital of Iraq.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
But what about all the good news?
Residents Tell of Growing Climate of Fear
Friday, August 19, 2005
Krugman is right, but...
Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore.
Despite the rantings of National Review, InstaPundit, and a host of others, Krugman is right, but is lacking context. The National Organziation for Research at the University of Chicago sponsored one of the studies Krugman certainly was citing. What did they find? That if the entire state had been manually recounted, using various liberal and conservative standards, Gore would have won. With a scant 115 in one case and an even slimmer 60 in another. But still he would have won. Looking at the narrower issue of the disputed counties under review by the US Supreme Court, Bush still would have won, by 225 to 493 votes.
So rant all you want. It's a split decision. So is Krugman guilty of providing a lack of context? Sure. More instructive, I think, is the looniness spawned by what he wrote.
Go ahead. Check it out yourself. But don't rely on the right-wing nutosphere to give you the real story.
Recently an international reporter told me (with a touch of bitterness) that his stories have to meet a specific editor’s expectations. That’s the word he used: “expectations.” Of course, you say, the editor is his boss. The reporter felt—felt, heck, he knew— important information he gleaned in the field was often cut from the account back home. Important nuances were lost. Do we blame it all on limited column inches or limited air time? Exercising good judgment, relying on professional experience, and just good, common sense editing are the upside of an information template— the affirmatives. Personal bias, ignorance of the facts, and lack of field experience are the downside— the negatives.
Well, this passage is all but worthless. What were the "expectations?" That the reporter should only bring back the bestest news from Iraq? What exactly was the reporter warned off from doing? Stories that said the war was going even worse than we're hearing? What important information that he gleaned from the field was cut? How about some specifics? Heck, from the above pasage, we don't even know if this reporter is in Iraq ("an international reporter told me..."). If I were a certain type of person, I'd start mumbling darkly about anonymous sourcing.
Read this passage again and think about how silly it is:
The reporter felt—felt, heck, he knew— important information he gleaned in the field was often cut from the account back home
OK. There's a pretty easy way to know whether or not the "important information" that had been gleaned in the field was cut in his final account or not. Compare the first draft of the story he sent to his editors with the one that appeared in the paper. Presto! And what was it that was cut? Bay doesn't say, and I don't suppose we'll never know.
P.S. Look, I'm not saying that bias and selective editing may not happen, but Bay doesn't do a good job making his case. I'm all for seeing a thoroughly reported story that would make the case that media organizations are consciously editing out "nuance" and "context" and whatever else you want to say to make the war look worse.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Ignorance is Strength
"We'd win in Iraq if the treasonous press would just stop talking about Cindy Sheehan and all those dead soldiers."
Monday, August 15, 2005
Now, who exactly, is outraged?
So, of necessity, he's more of a read-between-the-lines sort of guy, you know? Which is important to understand when reading a recent gem like this:
"REPORTERS ARE BEING TARGETED for violence and murder." Someone tell Linda Foley.
Doncha get it? No? OK, there's a little backstory, but it's really funny, so lemme explain. Linda Foley, the president of The Newspaper Guild had accused the U.S. milary of "targeting journalists" in Iraq. Now, that was wrong, and I think most sane people agree that's wrong. So the implication of "Telling Linda Foley" is that she probably doesn't give two squats about the murders of reporters in Mexico because, I suppose (I'm guessing, it's sometimes hard to interpret haiku) that the only time the evil Linda Foley is outraged by a journalist's death is when it reflects poorly on the U.S. military, or even worse, President-for-Life George W. Bush. So she needs to be told about deaths of reporters in Mexico because she would not be otherwise apprised. Or even if she were, she probably wouldn't make a stink about it because, like, all those Mexican reporters can die and stuff.
I knew you'd find it hilarious.
Apparently, though, speedy punditry affords you the luxury of not ever reading what you link to. As one commenter notes:
PS> When I saw the Instalink, I thought you were discussing killing reporters in Iraq which I just wrote a short story about last night.
I'm sure he was disappointed that he couldn't find detailed how-to instructions. Things get even funnier, because the intrepid blogger that Prof. Reynolds links to accuses the press of -- Oh, yes! -- ignoring the story because, they're like, Dinosaurs and stuff. Oh, the knife!
Funny this never made the national news. At least not in the sense of being
given day in day out coverage.
Yes, where is this national news coverage? This comment intriguingly follows an excerpt the blogger highlights from a story that appeared in -- drumroll -- The Washington Post, that discusses the problems in Mexico.
You know, the Washington Post, the freebie that gets chucked at your doorstep or left in the laundromat? That has, I'm pretty sure, no national distribution or presence, whatsoever?
To the LexisNexis Machine!
Let's start with May 24, 2005, when the New York Times pulled the wool over its readers eyes by unreporting this lede:
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico -- There was nothing secretive about the death threats against Guadalupe Garcia, a crime reporter here in this busy border city. Her stalkers broadcast their intentions over the police radio.
''You are next, Lupita,'' a growling voice would blurt into the emergency communications system. ''We are coming for you.''
They came on the morning of April 5. A young man carrying a backpack and a semiautomatic 9-millimeter handgun ambushed Ms. Garcia after she signed off her morning news show at Estereo 91. He shot her several times in the abdomen on a
busy street, in broad daylight.
Ms. Garcia, a wife and mother who was known for her provocative stories that named names of drug runners and their bosses based on her street reporting, fought for 11 days in intensive care before dying of her injuries.
I know, not national enough. Neither are the St. Petersburg Times, the Seattle Times, and the San Antonio News-Express, all of whom have catalogued the deaths of reporters in Mexico in the past three months.
Not to be missed, though, is this final thought from our blogger.
Perhaps what we see is the real truth about reporters. For most of them it is just a job. They have the courage to handle occasional danger. Permanent danger is not in the job specs.
Yeah, what's wrong with these pussy reporters? Only 31 died in the line of reporting this year alone. I'll bet that's pretty low compared with blogging-related deaths.
Friday, August 12, 2005
The continued self-inflicted idiocy of Rush Limbaugh
Yes, it's a complete cover-up. It was a front-page cover up. Indeed, the story was surreptitiously broken by The New York Times, and they placed it in the most obscure space they could find: above the fold, Page A1, on August 9.
Plame and the law
PUNDITS RIGHT, left and center have reached a rare unanimous verdict about one aspect of the grand jury investigation into the Valerie Plame leak: They've decided that no charges can be brought under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 because it imposes an impossibly high standard. Christopher Hitchens, for instance, described the 1982 act as a "silly law" that requires that "you knowingly wish to expose the cover of a CIA officer who you understand may be harmed as a result." Numerous other columnists have nodded their heads smugly in agreement.
Shocking as it may seem, however, the pundits are wrong, and their casual summaries of the requirements of the 1982 statute betray a fundamental misunderstanding regarding proof of criminal intent.
It's pretty good. Read it all.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Well what did you expect?
WENT TO DINNER TONIGHT with my co-blogger on my regular blog in Jersey City. I walked down a couple of miles from Hoboken, enjoying the oddness of it. Half of Jersey City looks like a "City of the FUTURE!!!" exhibit, ca. 1960--shiny glass skyscrapers and wide, empty boulevards. Most of the rest looks like a rotogravure spread on "The Tragedy of the Tenements", ca. 1908. I find the juxtaposition aesthetically stimulating. But I had to laugh at the sign just south of the Holland Tunnel informing me that I was entering Historic Downtown. Judging from the area where it was located, the history of Jersey City was written in cinderblock.
OK, she's clueless. But there's no need to broadcast your cluelessness. All right, all right, I should say half-clueless. Everyone agrees that the waterfront planning and architecture is a disaster, but there are some very specific reasons for it [the demise of the railroads, the desperation of the city in the 80's]. As for the "Tragedy of the Tenements"? Yeah, tenements going for, like, a million bucks. For background, shameless self-promotion, and why Ms. McArdle has it so very wrong, here.
NYT Iraq blogging
The name game
Interestingly, I think the article misses several points -- namely why the NJ colleges changed their names in the first place. The article says that it was because the schools were "hoping to project new and more ambitious identities." Sure they were. How about the schools wanted to have nothing to do with the towns where they were located? Trenton and Jersey City, at least at the time, had pretty awful reputations. Certainly, it's a school's prerogative to alter their scent to something sweeter, but let's not kid ourselves about "ambitious identities," OK?
One final thought. As a Jersey resident, I know how people refer to their schools. If you ask anyone around Jersey City, they still call it "Jersey City State." And in central Jersey, they now refer to the school as "TCNJ."
To those uninitiated in this whole matter, Will was in 1980 already a columnist for The Washington Post. He also was very close to Reagan. No surprise, I suppose. But what he then did was help candidate Reagan prepare for a debate with Carter, prepping him, coaching him, what have you [Will claims to have asked only one question, on Israel]. Will then went on Nightline to talk about what a wonderful job Reagan had done, indeed, telling Ted Koppel that the candidate had performed as a "thoroughbred."
Clearly, this was not a major media scandal, [In "The News At Any Cost," Tom Goldstein characterized it as a "sideshow -- a misjudgement...not a misdemeanor] but it should have been obvoius to Will that it was wrong of him to offer his services to the candidate and then turn around to, essentially, praise his own handiwork. What's interesting is the way Will chose to deal with the incident at the time it was revealed. Instead of apologizing or stating he was unethical to have offered his services, Will intead dismissed the complaints and offered this weak non-apology in a column from July 10, 1983:
"Would I accept a similar invitation again? Wild horses could not drag me. This, for three reasons. First, some of the questions now being raised seem to me to have merit. Second, it makes so many people anxious. Third, my relationship with ABC is now formal and different. (Then I generally appeared in a semi-debate format with a more liberal person.)
"Some of the questions now being raised seem to me to have merit." Such a lame mea culpa has not since been uttered. And he wouldn't do it again because of his relationship with ABC? What nonsense.
Now to the issue at hand from today's column. Apparently, someone from the Reagan camp had spirited away from Carter a briefing book -- one that Will dismissed then and now as inconsequential. Well, who knows? The issue now is that Carter claims that it was Will who had a hand in taking the book, but has not fessed up to it. Will, in today's column, lights into Carter, saying of him "The role of ex-president requires a grace and restraint notably absent from Carter."
Oh, and here's the latest apology: "my participation in his debate preparation was as inappropriate as it was superfluous." I don't know if Carter is embroidering his story or if Will is telling the truth, but I think it's interesting that it's taken Will 25 years to note how "inappropriate" his actions were. Call him a recidivist ass-coverer.
A note: I would also put into this category of misdemeanor the group of journalists who coached John Kerry in 2004 [for some reason, I can't find a link]. It is not a reporter's job to tell a candidate what he or she can do better -- indeed, it is supremely unethical to do so. I recently experienced a similar situation in which a defense attorney asked me what she should focus on for her closing arguments, and what was the weakest part of her case. I politely declined, saying it was not my role to do so.
I piss on your grave
If it's wrong to speak ill of the dead, then let me be wrong. I once spent a month in close working proximity to "Honest Abe," as he called himself, and the scars have yet to heal.
In my 55 years, I have not encountered a personality so possessed of Iago-like, motiveless malignity — a mind animated by equal parts greed and cruelty, and wily and ruthless enough to get away with it
But those in business and politics who suffered Hirschfeld's treachery and mercurial moods will, if they're honest, vilify him into the wee hours. So will tenants in apartment buildings he controlled who put up with an encyclopedic array of rent-gouging and petty abuse.
Abe Hirschfeld was Public Enemy No. 1 — a truth obscured by his amusing way with a joke in his Yiddish accent and a reputation for being "zany."
In fact, he was a terrifying, classic borderline-personality case, and one can only wonder what misery he inflicted on those closest to him. When he told dirty jokes or declared that he was "in the caliber of Einstein," it was funny — but you laughed trepidatiously. Evil dwelled behind the clown mask and it wasn't well concealed.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
"This is the new Iraq," said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal."
I don't know about my readers, but I find this far more disturbing news than the daily drumbeat of suicide bombings and assorted chaos. Of course, we wouldn't have this situation if we just adopted "sister city programs" with Iraq, like Christopher Hitchens suggests.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
This is the kind of stuff floating around out there, and this is the kind of stuff that if you [say] it to a New York Times reporter they'll go, "Oh, really?" and they'll conduct and begin an investigation into it, with absolutely no evidence whatsoever, just supposition, just presumption, and now we know "it's a dirty little secret; everybody does it, Democrats, Republicans, everybody. Nobody wants little babies of color.
Can we be clear here? Just for the record? The NYT has never published a single thing on this matter. Rush is reporting something he read on Drudge. He is attacking a phantom. He is the one publicizing it. He is the one exploiting the Roberts children for whatever political gain he thinks he's achieving.
Interesting philosophy on reporting Rush has, though. See, the only time you investigate something is when you're absolutely sure of the result. I think that tells you a lot.
It never seemed to me that there was any alternative to confronting the reality of Iraq, which was already on the verge of implosion and might, if left to rot and crash, have become to the region what the Congo is to Central Africa: a vortex of chaos and misery that would draw in opportunistic interventions from Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Bad as Iraq may look now, it is nothing to what it would have become without the steadying influence of coalition forces. None of the many blunders in postwar planning make any essential difference to that conclusion. Indeed, by drawing attention to the ruined condition of the Iraqi society and its infrastructure, they serve to reinforce the point.
So you see, Iraq is in chaos now, but it doesn't really matter what we do in Iraq because it was always going to be a hopeless mess, and that means that it would've been even worse if we didn't go in and, therefore, justifies our invasion.
The reasoning of a madman.
UPDATE: Don't miss this fascinating roundtable (posted elsewhere) with the now-deceased Steven Vincent and a pack of apologists. Vincent was, of course, a hawk on Iraq but even he can't seem to stomach the reflexive hurrahism of the Happy Iraqers.
Monday, August 08, 2005
"Mrs. Sheehan, as they say, seems to 'have issues.'"
Yeah, issues. Like her son is a corpse.
The thought police
I think it's instructive to note that the only reason we have learned about this matter is not because of an NYT article on it, but because of a bunch of braying desk jockeys reporting on the supposed reporting of the matter. Now they've achieved something the NYT hasn't: exploiting the children of a nominee for their political purposes and raising questions about his children where previously none existed. It will likely be a matter of time before this is nudged into the mainstream. Hope the desk jockeys are proud.
It is a scary time in this country, but even scarier when a bunch of ideologues start going after a news organization for something that they never even printed.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
The homeless can run to keep warm!
Sitting behind yet another Vermont granolamobile bearing the bumper sticker "Bush Scares Me," I found myself thinking that perhaps the easiest way to reduce childhood obesity in American families might just to be to shout out, "Look! There's big scary Bush! Run! Run for your lives! No, wait, there's John Bolton, too! Better cut through the park before he puts his hands on his hips in an aggressive manner!" Indeed, when yesterday's coming man John Edwards dusts off his "Two Americas" stump speech -- the one with the heartwarming Dickensian vignette about the shivering girl whose parents can't afford to buy her a winter coat ($9.99 brand new from Wal-Mart) -- he might want to add a section about how an easy way for shivering coatless girls to keep warm is to run around the block a couple of times.
Ah, it's been a good long time since we've seen anything with that level of ogreism. Let's hear it for Mark Steyn, whose next column idea will be how, precisely, we can exterminate all those filthy immigrants.