Sunday, February 20, 2005

Media criticism from around the web

We're going to note some mainstream media criticism that's online. (Yes, we'll be noting the Third Estate Sunday Review.)

First, Byron e-mailed about a Liberal Oasis post this week. (Thursday. And though Byron copied and pasted the post and link, I didn't read it then. I told him I'd wait until The Third Estate Sunday Review went up because it was on a similar topic and they'd just finished their entry -- I added some input -- on Wednesday night so I was pretty exhausted on that topic.)

Here's the post and it's worth reading so click the link to continue reading (if it speaks to you -- hopefully, that's understood):

It’s a good development that a federal appeals court has said the NY Times’ Judith Miller and Time’s Matt Cooper need to answer grand jury questions about PlameGate.
While there are more appeals to be had, and the two may opt to go to jail instead giving helpful information, at least there’s some forward movement in this painstakingly slow investigation.
But an unfortunate by-product of this ruling will be the high decibel whining from some media types about how this will restrict their rights and quiet confidential sources.
Journos have already learned the value of a talking point, parroting the NY Times’ company line, bemoaning the possible jailing of Miller
“for an article that was never published”.

Bill Scher is making strong points and has a take on it that's worth noting. (Again, we need more voices, not less.) Here's The Third Estate Sunday Review addressing the same topic (from another angle) in "The Big News of the Week: According to TNYT it was Judy Miller:"

Valerie Plame is outed. And the best The Times can do is to offer that some say Wilson went to Africa, according to "others," as -- well the word basically means graft.
Plame's been smeared. Now The Times joins in.
To what won't this paper stoop to protect their little Judy Miller?
(Someone should have chosen a more flattering picture for the article -- Miller's chins are more frightening from the side and rolling over her turtleneck sweater.)
Does the paper feel any sense of responsibility?
The answer has been obvious and we suggested it some time ago. You put your reporters on the story of who outed Valerie Plame (not on writing mash notes to Judy) and let them find out who outed Plame. You print that story and Miller doesn't have to go to jail.
We noted two weeks ago that this wasn't a good time for The Times to be pressing this issue in a court of law. We aren't at all surprised with the judges' verdict. Which isn't to say that we support it. It is to say that the press (including The Times) has done a sh**-poor job for some time now so expecting America to rise to the defense of the press is expecting a bit much. And expecting a favorable judicial climate when the Bully Boy has declared war on the press for four years now (while The Times has largely remained silent) indicates the people behind the paper left the reality based community on the last train to Clarksville sometime ago.
The paper's reluctance to address the very serious issue of outing Valerie Plame as retaliation for Wilson's op-ed is shameful. And they can puff up Judy as plucky, as Norma Rae and Places of the Heart combined. But just because Sally Field (a trained actress) could pull off those roles (and win deserved Oscars for them) doesn't mean Judy Miller can.

Also from that editorial is "The New York Timid." A new phrase we'll use for them here when they're especially annoying.

Let's go back to Liberal Oasis for Bill Scherr's post "Media, Again, Ignore Negroponte's Record Because Dems Don't Raise It:"

[Senator Tom] Harkin shouldn’t be too hard on himself. It’s not like he got a lot of help from his fellow Dems.
But seeing Negroponte go from human rights abuser to UN ambassador to Iraq ambassador to now, Director of National Intelligence, should serve as a lesson.
When you don’t keep up consistent, principled opposition against people with bad records, you won't be able to stop them when you really need to.
(For more on Negroponte’s disturbing record, see
the 5-part Baltimore Sun series, the NY Review of Books, The Nation’s David Corn, the Council of Hemispheric Affairs, Bill Press, SourceWatch and Common Dreams.)
You won't hear much about that record today.

. . .
Because if the Dems don’t make those kinds of arguments, the mainstream media lazily takes that as a sign that any criticism is strictly fringe and not worth repeating, let alone exploring.
And Dems were
mostly praising Negroponte yesterday, if at times restrained.
Of course, Negroponte has had Dem apologists for some time, as he is seen as a pragmatist (
some say Machiavellian) and not an ideologue.
Dem foreign policy gurus
Richard Holbrooke and Tony Lake have been close to him for years.

(Peaked your interest, click on the link.)

A number of people are e-mailing the site wondering where the outrage over Negroponte (I wonder too). So if this issue is important to you, read Scher's entry (which also provides numerous links that can take you to additional stories).

The Raw Story has "Mainstream press investigating Gannon." (Click the link to go there. I'm unable to get copy & paste to work and too tired to trust my abilitiy to summarize.)

Over at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby had a post worth noting Friday (I could pretty much note Somerby's posts Monday through Friday because, as I've noted, it's one of the sites I will break my neck trying to make time to check each day):

Here's Somerby addressing the problems with the op-ed writing of a Washington Post journalist:

So it's true -- Eugene Robinson is a liberal, and so are many press corps colleagues. But uh-oh! Yes, you did already pick up the tone of this instructive piece. Like all good modern press corps "liberals," Robinson is quick to state a key point -- we press corps liberals are a bunch of big phonies. You know how liberals are, after all! They're "perpetually queasy" about globalization ("pick your worry"), but they shop at Wal-Mart all the same. "If we want to," he says at one point, "we can shop where the people selling us our coffee beans have union contracts and better benefits." But being hypocritical, "liberals" don't.
But then, Robinson seems to be a familiar press corps "liberal" -- the kind who mainly makes fun of "liberals." Indeed, right at the start of this morning's piece, he makes a burlesque of a "liberal" concern, just the way the fakers-and-phonies all over talk radio do . . .

"Liberal" became a loaded term in the sixties (I'm not speaking of the right's criticism or
insults) and I'm not sure how Robison's intending it. But I don't take it as an insult to be called that and I don' t shop at big-box stores including Wal-Mart. I shop at Tower, I shop at an independent bookstore, I shop at a grocery store that's supposed to be fair to labor (hope that's the case), etc. Yes, I could go to a Wal-Mart but I don't, so maybe Robison should speak for himself?

On the issue of Wal-Mart a number of you have written in (we linked to something on it not long ago). If you're able to shop elsewhere, (my opinion) you should. However, we have members in the south, in small towns and I know from my own travels that in many areas that may be all you have. Unless you want to drive for an hour. Christy lives in East Texas (she's given permission for details to be shared). She's between Dallas and Tyler (the two big cities near her). To go to either would take at least an hour. She's a single, working mother with three young children. It's really easy to suggest that Christy drive an hour plus to go shopping in the middle of the week (loading up the car with the kids, dragging them there and back) but the reality is that because of their dominance in her area (she notes that every other small town in her area has one) that's all she's really got. There's a chain of grocery stores in the area (that either cover up Cosmo when the cleaveage is too much for them or just doesn't carry it, Christy notes) but they all close at nine o'clock. "If I need diapers and it's ten o'clock at night, I can't go to Tyler or Dallas for them. Wal-Mart and gas stations are the only twenty-four hour stores I have in my area."

Christy's not expected to drive an hour to shop. (I wouldn't.) If you have the choice (which does include the money to make that choice), I personally don't think anyone should stop there because it's bad for labor, bad for prices, bad for companies (Mother Jones had a good article on this in the summer), bad for wages, etc. But I've not weighed in on the topic because I am aware that it's very easy for people (like myself) who live in areas they can pick and choose to shop at and it's a completely different story if Wal-Mart is the only game in town.

I oppose their censorship and their control of the market. And I'm lucky to live in area where I have other choices (and can afford to spend a little more -- not everyone has that option).
So for Christy and other members who have expressed concerns that if they shop at Wal-Mart they aren't passing some Common Ills members litmus test -- there's no litmus test. You are as much a part of the community as anyone else.

If there was a litmus test (don't shop at Wal-Mart, don't eat red meat, don't smoke, don't drink, don't whatever) we'd have very few members. (I'd have to exempt myself from the community as well.) We're a resource/review. If you're able to take something and apply it, great. But we don't have a litmus test or a list of commandements.

Back to Somerby's. In the same Daily Howler, he offers a tip to bloggers:

By the way, this would be an excellent point for the boys and girls of the liberal web to pursue. Speaking of magical transformations, we note that they stopped discussing "private accounts vs. personal accounts" after Daddy told them it was pointless; now, we'll suggest that the size of those transition costs could help win the privatization debate. Recent polling made it clear --support for Bush’s plan drops fast when transition costs are described (many citizens know nothing about them). And readers, which number would drive support down faster? Fifteen trillion dollars -- or four?

No, we really don't cover the social security issue here (or not enough for Frank in Orlando) but we do note the Howler and we will pass on that point. (And any member is welcome to do an entry or write something to be posted within an entry on social security. The address is which, as Shirley rightly pointed out, I haven't been good about posting regularly of late.)

Mark Karlin (editor of BuzzFlash) was on The Laura Flanders Show. Kara has gently castigated me for not noting that. I wish I had noted that (and share Kara's disappointment in myself for not doing so). I had noted he would be on this weekend. I did check the show's web site when posting on Friday. There was no information there. On the main page of Air America, the guests for Saturday's show were listed (and that was posted on Friday). Saturday was an out of pocket day. I spent three hours (which includes during The Laura Flanders Show) hunting down Keesha's quotes of Alice Walker. When the hour with Karlin began, I did catch it and think, "Holy s**t!" I could be wrong, but I don't assume that people repeatedly check this site when no post has gone up for hours. So the idea of a "Right now on the Flanders' show, Mark Karlin is on!" seemed a little narcissistic on my part. We will quote from that (hopefully tomorrow).

Karlin was on with someone from The Onion. Both guests were great but I'm partial to Karlin. As far as I know, this was only his second Air America appearence (he was on The Majority Report last year). BuzzFlash was one of our first two links (Democracy Now! was the other) so obviously, I'm a big fan of the site. When the show goes up at Air America Place in the archives, we'll provide links and anyone who missed it can hear it there (and for those not able to listen, we'll provide a few quotes).

Which leads into our next media criticism highlight, "BuzzFlash Was on the Gannon Story From the Get-Go: Reposted, Jeff Gannon, GOP Partisan and Symbol of How the Bush Cartel Creates "Virtual" News (AKA Propaganda), is Our BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week."

That's from February 5 of this year and it can be read or listened to. From the transcript:

Since the White House news conferences are really staged public relations events, maybe having a partisan right wing shill in the group is not really hypocrisy. After all, if the rare appearances of Bush before the press are really just orchestrated according to script, having a guy like Jeff Gannon, of the low-profile Republican "Talon News Service" isn't hypocrisy, it's just part of the plan.
Talon's only other contribution to the world is an obscure website called, with a mission to "...spread the conservative message throughout America." Well, that explains a lot.
But last week at a Bush press conference, Gannon outdid himself by turning an ironically Orwellian editorial comment into a partisan set-up for Bush.
Thank you. Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. [Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid [D-NV] was talking about soup lines. And [Senator] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you've said you are going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

As always, click the link to read more. And I'll note a BuzzFlash interview as penitence for not making to sure to point out again (it was pointed out early in the week) that Mark Karlin would be on The Laura Flanders Show this weekend: 'Can Secularism, the Heritage of our Founding Fathers and Enshrined in Our Constitution, Survive the Hijacking of America by a Radical Religious Cabal? BuzzFlash Interviews Susan Jacoby, Author of "Freethinkers: The History of Secularism in America"' and we'll even "plug" a BuzzFlash premium, 'CD: Anais Mitchell: Hymns for the Exiled: "I could tell you stories like the government tells lies, but no one listens anymore"' which hopefully will give members something else to focus on besides my admitted failure. (I'd put a smiley face after that but I'm hoping most of you laughed or grinned without a cue.)

From Common Dreams (and the link to this story was found on BuzzFlash), Danny Schechter (Media Dissector) has "Where Was The Press When This Was Going On?" which addresses the media's long silence re: Jeff Gannon:

Perhaps now that "the Gates" have festooned themselves across New York's Central Park, we can bid adieu to the use of that term to connote political scandal. After Watergate, begat Contragate, we have had a cloned procession of almost obligatorily named outrages.
There was Filegate, Monicagate and most recently, we watched Memogate morph into Rathergate.
And now there's Gannongate.
Its time to close the door on further uses of this metaphor because gates usually open and close but these tend to have become a permanent feature of our political landscape, more revolving than alarming.
At the moment, everyone is smirking about the antics and improbability of a holier than thou White House conniving with a planted "reporter" who seems to have doubled as an on-line gay sex-for-hire panderer and practitioner, defiling images, no less, of our macho military warriors with websites like militaryescortsm4m. com.
Ooo wee. Yuk! The red white and blue horror of it all! Has the White House become an outhouse?
And yet, what's the question lost in all the focus on the sleazy antics of GOP propaganda plant Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert by a gang bang of bloggers and comedians, including, most hysterically, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart is where was is the rest of the press corps(e) while all this was going on for TWO YEARS?
Why did it take outsiders to expose it? Is it because as Buzzflash argues: "The blogging world did what the lackey mainstream press will no longer do, expose a story that is at the epicenter of the deceit and propaganda media campaign central to how the Bush Cartel continues to control America?"
Where were the other reporters and news rooms with a permanent presence at the White House Press Room when softball questions and partisan points were being offered up routinely in what were supposed to be press conferences aimed to eliciting truth?
Is this another case of the silence of what Greg Palast calls "the media lambs?"
Weren't any of our journo "pros" curious about this guy and his weird ways and phony news service operating as a front group for Republican hardliners? He was operating right in front of them but seems to have become transparently invisible.

And I realize this is old (and members may have already seen it) but it's new to me so I'll share it (it's media criticism so it falls into the topic of this entry), from Common Dreams, Joan Chittister's "What the Rest of the World Watched on Inauguration Day:"

Dublin, on U.S. Inauguration Day, didn't seem to notice. Oh, they played a few clips that night of the American president saying, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."
But that was not their lead story.
The picture on the front page of The Irish Times was a large four-color
picture of a small Iraqi girl. Her little body was a coil of steel. She sat knees up, cowering, screaming madly into the dark night. Her white clothes and spread hands and small tight face were blood-spattered. The blood was the blood of her father and mother, shot through the car window in Tal Afar by American soldiers while she sat beside her parents in the car, her four brothers and sisters in the back seat.
A series of pictures of the incident played on the inside page, as well. A 12-year-old brother, wounded in the fray, falls face down out of the car when the car door opens, the pictures show. In another, a soldier decked out in battle gear, holds a large automatic weapon on the four children, all potential enemies, all possible suicide bombers, apparently, as they cling traumatized to one another in the back seat and the child on the ground goes on screaming in her parent's blood.
No promise of "freedom" rings in the cutline on this picture. No joy of liberty underlies the terror on these faces here.
I found myself closing my eyes over and over again as I stared at the story, maybe to crush the tears forming there, maybe in the hope that the whole scene would simply disappear.
But no, like the photo of a naked little girl bathed in napalm and running down a road in Vietnam served to crystallize the situation there for the rest of the world, I knew that this picture of a screaming, angry, helpless, orphaned child could do the same.
The soldiers standing in the dusk had called "halt," the story said, but no one did. Maybe the soldiers' accents were bad. Maybe the car motor was unduly noisy. Maybe the children were laughing loudly -- the way children do on family trips. Whatever the case, the car did not stop, the soldiers shot with deadly accuracy, seven lives changed in an instant: two died in body, five died in soul.

Billie e-mailed in about Ron's Why Are We Back In Iraq? post today on the Times:

Yesterday someone from The New York Times paid a visit to my blog for at least 45 minutes. If it was either Frank Rich (my favorite NY Timeser) or Ralph Blumenthal...judging from both articles in the Sunday Times . . . I'm not sure Ralph Blumenthal has ever even been on the Internet . . . much less visited a blog . . . based on his sloppy, lazy, and inaccurate reporting (Sorry . . . but you have to register to read these articles: hack Blumenthal and must-read Rich).
This post is about the hack. Mr. Rich hardly ever writes anything that I find fault with. Did I happen to mention that I think Frank Rich is awesome? Oops . . . did it again.
Blumenthal - "Mr. Eberle said that in the two years that Mr. Guckert worked for him, he had not kept track of his volunteer reporter."
ummm . . . read the freeper threads, Mr. Blumenthal . . . Bobby keeps tight tracks of all of his volunteer reporters cause he hypes them up everywhere on the web. There's no way in hell that money never exchanged hands between the two either . . . (maybe eberle didn't write checks to Mr. GUCKERT but instead gave him cash plundered from baghdad) . . .
Blumenthal - "Still, he said, the backlash surprised him. "I had no reason to think he was not adhering to professional news standards."
ummmm . . . professional news standards . . . bobby's a plagiarizer so is his whole rotten staff . . . mr. professional news standards Eberle "I don't know if I actually asked about his background and training."
Blumenthal: "Mr. Guckert resigned soon after a news conference when he asked Mr. Bush: "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?" referring to Senate Democrats. Mr. Eberle said it was not his idea of a proper question. "I would have phrased it differently[.]"
do some research, bloomie.

Two notes. First, I read Billie's e-mail this morning and may or may not have noted it (I don't have the time to go back and look). If I did note it, I know I didn't do any links this morning (it was a moment when you "just want to close your eyes and follow your dreams down" -- "No Surrender" written by Bruce Springsteen -- see Susan, if you stay on me enough, I will quote more lyrics in posts). I'm also unsure of whether I gave Billie the credit she deserved so if it's been mentioned before, consider this the official post on it.

Second, to those reporters who e-mail the site noting (rightly) that a reporter isn't always responsible for what makes it into the paper under her or his byline, we're quoting Ron here, so take it up with him if there's an issue with his post. (And if I haven't been good about noting, in my own comments, that a reporter may not be responsible for a story, continue to take it up with me at And for members who are curious, no, I'm not corresponding with any reporter that's not a member of the community and yes, we are getting comments from reporters who have been mentioned here and want to raise issues but apparently don't wish to be quoted. I do not, and will not, respond with personal replies to those e-mails. We have members who don't get personal replies. And as Trisha wrote, "I'm laughing my ass off at the fact that reporters don't get personal replies since anytime I've ever written someone at the Times, I've had no response or a generic, automated reply. I hope it bothers them just as much as their non-responses bothered me.")

Rob: You should highlight The Third Estate's post "Editorial: We Once Noted That the Watchdog as Lapdog, Now We Note That Whatever It Is, It's Inbred!"

Oh those wacky kids over at CJR Daily, what a week they've had. It's not enough that silly scamps attempted to correct Media Matters when Media Matters was correct. They also embarrass themselves with Thursday's "Blog Report."
Starting out in CJR Daily's usual snide (and very non CJR attitude) tone, Brian Montopoli proves that time at The New Republic set him up for his spot on E!, if not for a media critic:

Excuse me, bloggers? Can I have a moment of your time? I know you're busy and everything -- that "Daily Show" segment last night was pretty aswesome . . .

Snide, bitchy and totally irrevelant -- it may soon become CJR Daily's slogan! (Poor CJR proper -- drug through the mud the unruly children.) [More than we knew! If this were a movie, we'd say, "You do not want to miss the ending!"]
But we're used their friviolity -- they blog on sports coverage after all! Hard hitting issue of the day, you won't find them at CJR Daily!
But it is cute how Brian Montopoli allude's to blogger Rebecca Blood saying about their "Blog Report:

"[Y]ou link over and over to only a few sites, as if they were representative of the entire blog universe. . . . To find them [thoughtful voices] would require more than just skimming a familiar set of links. I've seen you take down traditional media over and over again for this very thing. I think you usually call it "lazy reporting."

Ouch! Smack down for Montopoli!
Brian quotes her, you say, what's your point? And what's this "alludes" bullsh*t?
What indeed.
Well to read Montopoli's Thursday entry (if you must) you get the impression that Rebecca Blood has just stumbled onto something completely new. A criticism that Big Boy Bri has never heard. That no one at CJR Daily has ever heard.
Fact check for CJR Daily -- you've heard it. You've heard it for months and months. You've heard it over and over. You've heard in private e-mails that you responded to. You should have heard it from CJR proper where people have taken their complaints to. And you should have seen it on the posting comments section of CJR Daily.

Rob: I know you had input on it but if you don't highlight it, I'm not sure anyone will. I have a feeling this could be a post that's so to the point, it's greeted with silence. Buried because people are either chicken sh*t and don't won't to risk offending CJR Daily and losing out a link. I know your feelings on CJR Daily so I don't think you'll wimp out but I hope some notion of "fair play" won't prevent you from highlighting this editorial.

Of course we'll highlight it. They are "of the left." They are community members. And as I've noted repeatedly, offending or not offending CJR Daily isn't a worry that I have. Early on members shared their stories of attempting to get us highlighted there (and their e-mails and their e-mail replies). I said back then (in e-mails, Rob's referring to one he received back then) that CJR Daily is welcome to highlight whomever they want and that we were growing just fine without highlighting, so please don't start some of blog war in the community's name. (Though as individuals they were welcome to do, as are all members, anything they wanted.) We're a member community (no charge, no application to fill out). We won't wimp out because we have a big community and don't need to worry that we might blow a possible link from CJR Daily.
Word of mouth (and some links, yes) have helped the community grow.

I always feel like I'm insulting a new member when I make this statement but, here goes, the community is too large. All members are welcome (new or old) but I miss the days when I could respond to every e-mail that came in and really exchange ideas and thoughts with members who exchanged thoughts and ideas with me. Any fears that might pop up about noting something -- "is this going too far" -- probably mean I'll be more likely to note it. Long term mebers have stayed with us (and thank you for that) but they frequently (and rightly) note that we're touching on less controversial issues than we did at first.

Or as Kara e-mailed: This is the site that's first real post was called "Here Come the Madmen."

Every member is valued and when they bring something up, we'll highlight it here. But with the increase in members, it means we're focusing on a number of issues that we might not have focused on prior. (And that can be a good thing. I'm just noting that in the early days, members and myself were generally on the same page on most issues addressed and on what needed to be addressed.)

So there's no concern that we might lose out on links. And there's no concern that we might (Rob's terms) "thin out the herd" if we criticized something that needed criticizing. (We lost a member last week over the Lynne Stewart coverage. I stand by that coverage and we'll continue to address that issue.) We're a community and we speak to the needs and interests of our community members. Any attempt to waffle would be prevented by my longing for the days when I could e-mail each and every member a real reply.

(I blame Barbara Boxer. I'm joking. But it was her bravery that really sent the e-mails sky rocketing as everyone wanted to weigh in on that. And they've continued to sky rocket. And members should weigh in and don't let me whining for a time past ever stop you from weighing in. As Rob will tell you, I can push something back to focus on something else and you need to stay on me. Susan will tell you the same thing regarding getting more music into the community. But in all honesty, I do miss the days when you could write in with your thoughts and I not only read them but was able to write you a personal reply. Now any exchange is pretty much confined to these entries.)

And I miss the days where when I read a great e-mail from a member, I could take the time to persuade them to please, please let me share it. I don't have that time now. Which is why I ask that if you want to be quoted you please state that in your e-mails. (And no, you don't have to want to be quoted to e-mail in. Weigh in privately or publicly, either way is fine.)