Saturday, January 08, 2005

How bad is the Times today? Wilgoren and sports make the front page

The Times front page is best read selectively. Sports and Jodi Wilgoren (or as Melanie suggests we call her "Jo-Jo Wilogren") make the front page.

Hey, wasn't history made Thursday? Didn't something happen that will be a footnote in our nation's history? If you read just the front page of the New York Times, you'd never know it. Maybe someone at the paper should give some thought to that?

Let's focus on the positive, Randal C. Archibold and Michelle O'Donnell have a strong story with
'64 Case Revisited, Mothers' Wounds Reopened:

Fannie Lee Chaney, 82, spoke of her son James and the recent turn of events early yesterday in her tidy bungalow in Willingboro, N.J. She fled Mississippi in 1965 after shots were fired into her house, amid other threats.
She said she knew Mr. Killen, the first person to face murder charges in the 40-year-old killings. He was the preacher, she said, who visited the home of a white woman Mrs. Chaney was cleaning for shortly after the murders. A young boy came in the kitchen, where Mrs. Chaney was washing the dishes, and asked her if she had heard the preacher's words: "God bless the black hands."
She had, she said.
"Oh yeah," she said, bristling. "I never could forget."
Carolyn Goodman, 89, living in the same Upper West Side apartment where she raised her son, meticulously prepared her breakfast of sliced bananas and English muffins as her telephone trilled and a friend scrambled to organize a cavalcade of interviews. She wanted to make one thing clear, that all along she was after justice, not revenge.
"I am not an eye-for-an-eye person," said Dr. Goodman, a clinical psychologist. "I want justice to be done, that he and the others involved be off the streets."

Steven Erlanger's Palestinian Ballot Presents Quandary for Hamas continues the coverage on the Palestinian election.

And I think Rob will once again feel, "Mahmoud Abbas is a mystery because the Times won't tell us anything about him. Who is he? What does he stand for? A paragraph biography has been repeatedly stretched out into multiple columns day after day. Is the Times ever going to get serious or are they saying the leader of the Palestinians is so unimportant, whomever he is, that all we need to know is that there's guarded hope? I don't know if this was why Kara was asking for comments but I have read everything on this in the paper in the last month and I know absolutely nothing. A rule for all future pieces should be: What are you telling me? If there's a paragraph of speculation that you're rounding out with 'some people say' and 'other people say' then wad up your journalism degree and throw it in the trash. This is embarrassing. It's pedistrian journalism. At a time when the Times continue to highlight the tsunami after effects in amazing detail they still can't report on Mahmoud Abbas. Oh wait, they did pass on the earth shattering news about his scarf the other day. Either start reporting on the story or quit covering it."

Rob, you'll probably want to skip today's story on Hammas that contains a lot of declarative statements such as "Hammas is . . ." -- statements that may or may not be verifiable.
There's a lot of speculation being stretched out to fill space. (Who knew they sold Reporter Helper? Must be on the shelf next to the tuna and hamburger?)

Focus instead on Douglas Jehl & Neil A. Lewis's U.S. Said to Hold More Foreigners in Iraq Fighting:

After raids in recent months that captured hundreds of insurgents in Iraq, the United States has significantly increased the number of prisoners it says are foreign fighters, a group the Bush administration contends are not protected by the Geneva Conventions, American officials said.

Do they consider anyone protected by the Geneva Conventions? Did the wig-hatted Alberto Gonzales's performance of "Brand New Me" fool anyone Thursday?

Okay, so they're not protected by the Geneva Conventions if they're foreign fighters. That's interesting. So in Nazi Germany, which troops would have been protected by the Geneva Conventions? It's really interesting the way Bullies Without Borders thinks that these rules they make up as they go along will never effect anyone. Maybe they scream judicial activism so much because the very concept of "precedent" is so far beyond their grasp?

Should the words "Geneva Conventions" even be spoken by this administration except to set off howls of laughter across the globe?

We've made a joke of the Geneva Conventions but what's being done in our name is not a laughing matter. It's laugh or cry so react to Bullies Without Borders latest pronouncement in whichever way helps you get through the day. (And yes, we will continue to mock Bullies Without Borders. The idea that a reasoned debate would reach them faded long ago.)

Also, heads up, The Laura Flanders Show is all new tonight on Air America ( The front page shows a list of the guests (scroll down for "Today on Air America") and I'm sure Barbara Olshansky will have a great deal to say about the Geneva Conventions (but no doubt it will all be over the Bullies Without Borders' heads).
Ring of Fire and Marty Kaplin's So What Else Is News? are also both new episodes. (Warning, Simon Rosenberg will be on Kaplin's show. Hey, don't throw that ___ at me! I was just warning you.)

(Later today, we'll highlight the tsunami coverage in the Times for Thursday, Friday and today.)