Sunday, March 13, 2005

New York Times today: Is It News, or Is It Bully Boy; Judge steps in on G-Bay Detainees; Tom DeLay has generous friends

Earlier risers must be sleeping in, no e-mails about this morning's New York Times as yet.
There are e-mails about only one post on Saturday. Again, if you're having problems with the site, scroll to archives and click March. (There's Gina's entry for Women's History Month and a long entry on Air America that did post yesterday.)

We also have a thing from Luke (that's up twice, I'll delete one) from wotsitgood4 up already this morning. It was an all-nighter with The Third Estate Sunday Review and I haven't slept since I got up Saturday morning. Which I disclose because there are stories in this morning's New York Times that you may note but I'm not.

For instance, I'm too tired to face it if Jodi Wilgoren is backsliding. Too tired for that kind of disappointment, so I avoided reading that article. (And hopefully, she's continuing her winning streak.)

On the front page, I will note that David Barstow & Robin Stein have a very long, very detailed article entitled "Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged Television News."

From the article:

It is the kind of TV news coverage every president covets.
"Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.," a jubilant Iraqi-American told a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. A second report told of "another success" in the Bush administration's "drive to strengthen aviation security"; the reporter called it "one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history." A third segment, broadcast in January, described the administration's determination to open markets for American farmers.
To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The "reporter" covering airport safety was actually a public relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the Agriculture Department's office of communications.
Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.
This winter, Washington has been roiled by revelations that a handful of columnists wrote in support of administration policies without disclosing they had accepted payments from the government. But the administration's efforts to generate positive news coverage have been considerably more pervasive than previously known. At the same time, records and interviews suggest widespread complicity or negligence by television stations, given industry ethics standards that discourage the broadcast of prepackaged news segments from any outside group without revealing the source.
Federal agencies are forthright with broadcasters about the origin of the news segments they distribute. The reports themselves, though, are designed to fit seamlessly into the typical local news broadcast. In most cases, the "reporters" are careful not to state in the segment that they work for the government. Their reports generally avoid overt ideological appeals. Instead, the government's news-making apparatus has produced a quiet drumbeat of broadcasts describing a vigilant and compassionate administration.

It is a long article (hence the long excerpt) (in the print edition it continues from the front page for a full page and then another half page) but I think you'll want to read it.

Let's go to inside the paper now. Scott Shane has "Judge Bars U.S. From Moving Some Detainees." From the article:

A federal judge on Saturday prohibited the government from transferring 13 Yemeni prisoners from the military's detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, until a hearing could be held on their lawyers' fear that they might face torture if sent to another country.
The ruling by Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of United States District Court was the first action on at least five emergency petitions filed since Friday by lawyers for Guantánamo detainees after they learned from news reports that the government is seeking to transfer hundreds of prisoners to their home countries.
[. . .]

The judge's order puts at least a temporary roadblock in the way of the administration's plans to transfer at least half of the 540 detainees at Guantánamo to prisons in other countries, chiefly Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen.
[. . .]
The government argues that all the prisoners were members of the Qaeda terrorist network or the Taliban in Afghanistan, or have ties to those groups. Mr. Falkoff said that after talking to his clients during two weeklong visits to the detention center and reviewing government documents, he did not believe they were terrorists.
[. . .]

The ruling bans any transfer of the Yemenis until a hearing can be held on their lawyers' request for at least 30 days' notice before any transfer takes place. Ms. Olshansky said the notice would permit the lawyers to determine whether their clients willingly accepted the transfer to a prison in their home countries, or whether they feared they would be tortured or indefinitely detained without trial.

We'll also note Philip Shenon and Robert Pear's "As DeLay's Woes Mount, So Does Money."
Like a tele-vangelist, DeLay seems to forever be raising monies for potential legal defenses.
That alone should raise an eyebrow. This predates the current possibility of an indictment for
DeLay from Ronnie Earl of Travis County (Texas). You'll discover that two members of the House Ethics committee have contributed as have corporations such as AMR, Coors and Exxon Mobil. Reliant Energy of Houston made a $20,000 donation. Gee, these sure are some giving people, no? Someone's not even been charged but just out of the goodness of their heart, they reach in and dig deep. Wonder how much they gave to the relief to aid victims of the tsunami?

And thank goodness that the innocent DeLay was wise enough to know that these 'illegitimate' and surely 'unfounded' legal attacks would start up and keep coming because his legal defense fund was created in 2000 and he's never seen reason to disband it. Oh well, guess it's kind of like keeping a quarter (or whatever a pay phone costs now) in your shoe in case the date goes bad so you can call your parents, eh, DeLay?

From the article:

Documents introduced into evidence in a civil trial in Texas last month showed that Mr. DeLay had a larger role in raising corporate donations for the political action committee than previously known.
The documents, subpoenaed from the files of an indicted former fund-raiser for Mr. Delay as a result of a civil lawsuit against the political action committee, suggested that Mr. DeLay or someone in his Washington office had accepted a $25,000 check from Reliant in 2002 that was forwarded to Texans for a Republican Majority, and that he had a direct role in soliciting contributions from other corporations on the committee's behalf.
In his most detailed comments to date about the grand jury investigation, Mr. DeLay said at a news conference in Washington this week that he was among the people responsible for the creation of the committee - "it was my idea, or it was our idea" - and that all of the group's fund-raising activities had been carefully reviewed by lawyers.

I'm seeing a lot of "life-style" pieces in the supposedly hard news section and not a great deal more. I'm not in the mood to fact check (too tired) so I've avoided the international coverage.
If you see something you want to highlight (or, even better, to discuss) e-mail the site at and since ___ e-mailed this morning asking if it would be okay to privately share his/her opinion of the Sunday Chat & Chews, let me again state that it's fine to write in even if you don't wish to be quoted. You are read and something you note in your e-mail may be about something we're not noting so it will give me a heads up to pay attention to that issue.

(And yes, having been up over 26 hours in a row, I will now be going to bed and may not post again until this evening. Check out The Third Estate Sunday Review, they've got a lot of things worth reading.)