Friday, July 21, 2006

Predicted wingnut response to the following article: "See, here is where the media held a story, which means that THE MEDIA SHOULD ALWAYS HOLD STORIES!!!1!"

My take is that this is a bit of journalistic navel-gazing. The article is a juxtaposition to ... what? The writer doesn't say. Could be the secret CIA prisons. Could be the warrantless wiretapping program.

A Secret the Media Kept
Toward the end of 1979, hundreds of American and Canadian journalists and news organizations got hold of a dynamite news story that would have made personal reputations and careers and sent circulation or broadcast ratings soaring. The facts were confirmed, unassailably. Any one of these reporters could have had the scoop of a lifetime.

And yet not one reporter, newspaper, network or newsletter ran with the story until given permission to do so (all at once) by the governments involved. [...]

It was very different back in 1979.

On Nov. 4 of that year, Islamic militants stormed and occupied the U.S. Embassy compound in Tehran and took hostage the more than 70 Americans there.

But six American officials happened to be outside the compound, elsewhere in the Iranian capital, at the time of the takeover. The militants never realized that some Americans were missing; they were being sheltered by Canadian diplomats in Tehran, who were risking their own safety to protect them.

This, then, is an example of news critters holding information that directly affected the life, death, or imprisonment of a number of people. Sounds like a good idea to me. Bully for journalists.

Without specifying a story, the writer also rhetorically asks:
Today, as news media have revealed secret programs of the Bush administration, the questions are being asked: Can journalists keep a secret? Should they? Are news media capable of drawing the line between revelations that would be too damaging to national security interests and those necessary to safeguard American democracy and constitutionally protected rights?

Here's another question. Of the stories that have invoked such questions, how many have had a direct and immediate impact on the life, death, or imprisonment of any person or persons?

I suspect the answer is none. And if so, then this whole comparison falls apart.

It is a pretty color of navel lint, though. And fluffy, too.
Howie Kurtz sorta kinda addresses questions that Glenn Greenwald, among others, has raised. Questions about how big media has a narrative about political-left bloggers being angry and irrational, but how big media does not have a corresponding narrative for political-right bloggers calling people traitors and calling for the execution of these supposed traitors.

The column's headline is "Thunder on the Left." Naturally. On the issue of eliminationist rhetoric from political-right bloggers, it only makes sense to highlight that the noise about the issue is coming from the political-left bloggers. All in the name of even-handedness, don'tcha know.

Anyway. Here is Kurtz:
In an online chat the other day, someone got mad at me for saying that there was as much anger toward the media on the left these days as there has always been on the right.

After all, haven't a couple of conservative bomb-throwers said that journalists should be tried, convicted, hung, shot and otherwise disrespected for spilling national security secrets?

True, and I haven't come across any liberal opinion-mongers wishing quite the same fate on card-carrying journalists. But let's not make the mistake of confusing the views of a few extremists with those of everyone on their side of the spectrum.

Notice, please, that among the "few extremists" are bloggers that Kurtz regularly cites. Instawhozit and Malkin, for example. So, Kurtz is attempting to dismiss the significance of a "few extremists," while deeming these people significant enough to regularly cite them in his column. Oh. Kay.

More Kurtz:
Trust me when I say that many liberals are really ticked off at the MSM, even though the nature of their criticism is very different from their rivals on the right. The anger that liberals feel over media coverage of President Bush and the war is tinged with deep disappointment over journalistic shortcomings and a hope, however vain, that things can be improved. Why aren't you on our side? The anger among conservatives is fed by decades of feeling that the MSM is a bastion of bias, and a sense of futility that things will ever change. Why can't we get an even break?

I think Kurtz is attempting a middle-ground viewpoint here. "Look, both sides are angry. Behold my objectivity! And balance!"

'Cept, the issue is not who is angry. I get angry at other drivers on my in to work every day. Everybody gets angry. Anger is not the issue. The issue is, what about these people who are calling for executions? What about these people whose view of professional journalists, whose view of appointed judges, whose view of these people doing their jobs is that they should be killed for saying things and coming to conclusions that the political-right bloggers don't like?

These are dangerous, extremist positions. It is being under-reported, and it is being white-washed here by Kurtz.

But, hey, I'm sure that this post can be written off as "angry," so never mind after all and hey look! Kate Hudson!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wanted: Punchy name for historically significant, presidential obstruction of an investigation into possible presidential law-breaking.

Amid all the other news yesterday, the attorney general's startling revelation that President Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation into the administration's controversial secret domestic spying programs hasn't gotten the attention it deserves.

Bush's move -- denying the requisite security clearances to attorneys from the department's ethics office -- is unprecedented in that office's history. It also comes in stark contrast to the enthusiastic way in which security clearances were dished out to a different group of attorneys: Those charged with finding out who leaked information about the program to the press.

It is not common for a president to personally intervene to stop an investigation of his own administration. The most notorious case, of course, was the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973, during which President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who had been appointed to investigate the Watergate scandal. Among the many major differences, however: In that case, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resigned rather than follow Nixon's order.

Waas in the National Journal:
But Jarrett subsequently wrote [PDF] to Hinchey, "We have been unable to make any meaningful progress in our investigation because OPR has been denied security clearances for access to information about the NSA program. Beginning in January 2006, this office made a series of requests for the necessary clearances. On May 9, 2006, we were informed that our requests had been denied. Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this matter and therefore have closed our investigation."

So, let's see ... May 9, 2006. That was a Tuesday. No indication of the time of day, so that's out. Massacre is to firing key officials, as [blank] is to denying clearance to investigators. Hmmm.

Stonewall is the popular term for this kind of thing. So, alliteration with Tuesday and Stonewall is out. But that might be OK, because alliteration makes some people irrationally angry.

King George's Stonewall?

The "I am the Law" Declaration? Act Number 734 of the American Monarch?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

When you watch this clip...

do you think of a "man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius"?

Nah, no one could think that.
I heard a word from on high
Glare like a light in the sky
It said, "quit blowing each other up"

Incubus (2004). Made for tv movie. On A crow left of the murder [CD]. Epic/Immortal.

That's all I got.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Looks like Howie Kurtz had quite a lively on-line chat today. Here are some excerpts.
Philly, Pa.: amazes me that the media call the left side of the blogosphere angry when it is the right side of the blogosphere that is constantly calling anyone who disagrees with them "traitors and unpatriotic." ... Is it for false balance? When will you stop having these people on your show b/c that gives them credibility that they don't deserve.

Howard Kurtz: Seems to me there is considerable anger on both sides. ...


Washington, D.C.: What do you make of the anthrax scare at the NYT (where someone sent a powder in an envelope along with a copy of the editorial defending the leak of the article about tracking financial transactions)?

Specifically, are you concerned that the rhetoric against the Times and other media outlets, on blogs, talk shows, and even from Members of Congress, has heated up so much? It seems almost commonplace now to hear allegations of treason and calls for death hurled against reporters and editors. Does this concern you at all?

Howard Kurtz: Who knows why some nut sends white powder to a newsroom?


Washington, D.C.: I understand that you try to get points of view from all over the political spectrum but some of your favorite commentators, the Powerline guys and Hugh Hewitt, seem to genuinely believe that the Times, and The Post, are on the side of the terrorists. Is that a credible opinion? If its not, then why do you have them on your CNN show all the time?

Howard Kurtz: I leave it to readers and viewers as to whether such opinions are credible. And it is my practice, in my articles, blog and television show, to seek balanced opinions from different sides. You might see folks from National Review or Power Line on one side, but you will see Arianna or Josh Marshall or Kos on the other.


Harrisburg, Pa.: "Seems to me there is considerable anger on both sides". Well, yes, there is.

But only one side seems to be consistently calling for the death of the people with whom they disagree (see the Coulter quote you cited this morning).

Only one side consistently uses terms like 'treason' and 'traitor' and claim that their political enemies are on the side of the terrorists.

Have you really not noticed this? If you have, doesn't it bother you?

Howard Kurtz: Anyone who reads me knows that I am well aware of the fierce anti-press views out there, including those who say journalists should be tried for treason. But I am not going to pretend those views don't exist, whether or not I agree with them. People should be aware of them and form their own judgments.


Out there: "And it is my practice, in my articles, blog and television show, to seek balanced opinions from different sides.: ... I think you should strive for accuracy and less balance. Accuracy is not saying "left and right blogs are angry." Accuracy is saying "left blogs use vulgarity" and right wing blogs call for the hanging of the Supreme Court justices" These things do not balance each other out.

Howard Kurtz: Then you want advocacy, not journalism. I don't believe in false equivalency. If partisans on the left OR right do something outrageous, I call them on it. All opinions, of course, aren't equal, or we'd have to give equal space to the Flat Earth Society. But I am never going to please the strong partisans on either side because I am not in the advocacy business.


Philly, Pa: Howard, come on..."Seems to me there is considerable anger on both sides."

Are you serious? What lefty blogs or pundits have called for the hunting of reporters? What lefty blogs or pundits have called for the gassing of those they disagree with (Melanie Sloan), or the firing squad (Coulter)? There is definitely a difference!

Howard Kurtz: If you got the email I get, you'd know that passions run high on both sides. I don't know of any liberals who have suggested that journalists be executed, but many are plenty angry at media coverage of Bush, Iraq, you name it.

Thanks for the chat, folks.

Shorter Howie Kurtz: I hear your examples of false equivalency, but I don't practice false equivalency, so I will now ignore your examples.
Microphone Captures Bush's Unscripted Comments at G-8
Bush also offered his thanks to Blair for what was probably a gift for the president's 60th birthday.

"Thanks for the sweater. Awfully thoughtful of you," Bush said. Then he added mischievously, "I know you picked it out yourself."

"Oh, absolutely," Blair declared.

Bush went on. He said, "No, you don't understand. We've got your phones and offices bugged. I know that you picked that sweater out yourself."

Adding, "heh heh heh."
Bush Administration Plans Medicare Changes

Ho hum. Another example of "conservative" government at work.

The Bush administration says it plans sweeping changes in Medicare payments to hospitals that could cut payments by 20 percent to 30 percent for many complex treatments and new technologies.

The changes, the biggest since the current payment system was adopted in 1983, are meant to improve the accuracy of payment rates. But doctors, hospitals and patient groups say the effects could be devastating.


The new system is based on a commercial product developed by 3M Health Information Systems, a unit of 3M, the Minnesota-based technology company. In July 2005, the Bush administration awarded a “sole source contract” to 3M, to analyze whether it was feasible for Medicare to use a payment system modeled on the 3M product. The company said yes.

Guess someone should try to determine how many thousands of dollars 3M needed to contribute to which candidates in order to get this no-bid contract.

UPDATE: The 3M PAC is not the biggest donor in the Pharma/Health industry, but they sure do like them Republicans; 84% of its contributions go to the R's, the remaining 16% to the Dems.