Sunday, March 27, 2005

Today's Timid has news but wants to play Tabloid

Okay, admittedly I'm tired. Helping the gang from The Third Estate Sunday Review meant another all nighter. So maybe I'm a little off in my game (to use a sport's expression -- just like the Times). But I'm looking at a story and wondering why the hell it isn't on the front page of this morning's paper.

From Eric Lichtblau's "New Details on F.B.I. Aid for Saudis After 9/11:"

The episode has been retold so many times in the last three and a half years that it has become the stuff of political legend: in the frenzied days after Sept. 11, 2001, when some flights were still grounded, dozens of well-connected Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, managed to leave the United States on specially chartered flights.
[. . .]
The F.B.I. records show, for instance, that prominent Saudi citizens left the United States on several flights that had not been previously disclosed in public accounts, including a chartered flight from Providence, R.I., on Sept. 14, 2001, that included at least one member of the Saudi royal family, and three flights from Las Vegas between Sept. 19 and Sept. 24, also carrying members of the Saudi royal family. The government began reopening airspace on Sept. 13, but many flights remained grounded for days afterward.
The three Las Vegas flights, with a total of more than 100 passengers, ferried members of the Saudi royal family and staff members who had been staying at Caesar's Palace and the Four Seasons hotels. The group had tried unsuccessfully to charter flights back to Saudi Arabia between Sept. 13 and Sept. 17 because they said they feared for their safety as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks, the F.B.I. documents say.

The New York Timid. It's got a front page story but they bury it on page A10. Make your sure you're aware of this story. Vanity Fair covered this issue (without the new documents) and didn't get a great deal of attention for their article. (Possibly because this was before they were offering articles at their site online. However, press accounts during the release of Michael Moore's film last summer largely avoided mentioning the Vanity Fair article.)

So what's on the front page? Well the Timid still wants to try playing tabloid. But in a cultured way, you understand. For that reason, the fact that Deborah Voigt had gastric bypass surgery in June to reduce her weight. We even get photos, before and after. There's not a great deal of difference between this and The Star (or some other tabloid) running before and after photos of Michael Jackson's nose jobs except for the fact that Voigt is a star of "high culture." That might allow the Timid to feel a little less slimey today, but don't cut them any slack. They had a story that broke news but relegated it to A10 and ran a plastic surgery story on the front page, with two photos. I'm honestly surprised that they didn't attempt to recycle an infamous tabloid headline from years ago about Anita Pallenberg, "Deborah Vogt, What a Waist!" (Or did that original headline read "Anita Pallenberg, What a Waste!"? Regardless, the tabloid was a little more upfront about what it was doing. The Timid, apparently like the fog, creeps in on a little cat's feet.)

Of course they have to go with another Terry Schiavo story on the front page and we'll also note that they have a large photo inside of two protestors. Don't get excited, the Timid hasn't suddenly discovered that on the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, there were protests across the country. No, that didn't matter. But two protestors, TWO, qualify for a photo when they want to continue feeding at the trough of the one story we've all heard way too much on.
Again, the Timid wants to play tabby today.

And guess what? The Timid and James Dao have discovered Ohio.

Again, don't get excited. They're not suddenly reporting on the fact that a United States Congressional committee went to Ohio last week to seek out testimony on the Ohio vote in November 2004. That's real news. Dao's doing a breezy sort of press release for the GOP (and Kenneth Blackwell who wants to be governor in 2006 gets a photo of him beaming and pointing -- which looks about as genuine as when Austin Powers does it as he roams through the casino in the first Austin Powers film). The article is entitled "Movement in the Pews Tries to Jolt Ohio:"

Christian conservative leaders from scores of Ohio's fastest growing churches are mounting a campaign to win control of local government posts and Republican organizations, starting with the 2006 governor's race.
In a manifesto that is being circulated among church leaders and on the Internet, the group, which is called the Ohio Restoration Project, is planning to mobilize 2,000 evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic leaders in a network of so-called Patriot Pastors to register half a million new voters, enlist activists, train candidates and endorse conservative causes in the next year.

Lynda calls our attention to Monica Davey's "Tribe Buries 3 on a Long Road to Healing:"

Three of those killed Monday in a teenager's shooting spree that ended at Red Lake High School were buried by Saturday evening, after a day of somber services that mixed Christian traditions with Indian drums, rituals and honor songs. At one point, an eagle flew overhead, circling around a memorial service, a sign some mourners said was hopeful.
But seven more funerals lie ahead in the coming days, including one for the gunman, and residents of this stark reservation of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians said that many months of struggle were certain to follow.
"This is a time for healing," said Fred Auginash, whose teenage nephew was among the wounded, as he stood outside the funeral for Daryl Lussier, in a biting wind. "This is hard on everybody, and it's going to take a long time. We're taking it pretty hard as a family, but Red Lake is taking it pretty hard as a family, too."

Tim Golden's "U.S. Is Examining a Plan to Bolster the Rights of Detainees" is actually news so it must be a fluke that it made the front page. From the article on modifications the administration may make their tribunal policies:

The proposed changes, many of which are detailed in a 232-page draft manual for the tribunals that has been circulating among Pentagon lawyers, come after widespread criticism from the federal courts, foreign governments and human rights groups.

Note it doesn't say "widespread criticism from the New York Timid." Good thing too because the Timid, last Thursday, acted as court room stenographer when not painting the man on trial as enraged (in some variation or another) while never attempting to impart the fact to the reader that this man has been held without a trial for how long?

Back to the article:

The proposals would generally move the tribunals - formally known as military commissions - more into line with the judicial standards applied to members of the American military in traditional courts-martial, officials said. Many military lawyers have privately urged such a shift since President Bush first authorized the commissions after Sept. 11.
The administration's willingness to restructure the commissions, which have been a central part of its strategy for fighting terrorism, is uncertain. Some officials said they considered the proposals premature because a lawsuit challenging the legality of the commissions is now in a federal appeals court.

You'll learn that Cheney is reportedly opposed to changes in the policy (no surprise there) and that nothing may come of this. (Maybe the Timid got word that the Washington Post was running a story today on the same topic? Rebecca picked it as one of the underreported stories for an article in The Third Estate Sunday Review. (A link is provided to the Wash Post story there. I'm just trying to get this post done and get to sleep.)

Kara e-mails noting Jane Perlez's "Cause of Mystery Ills Splits Indonesian Fishing Village."
Kara notes that Perlez "did some strong reporting on the tsunami and has a writing style that puts you into the story and does so at the top." From the article:

This is a simple village where the fishermen's families live on the sea in wooden shacks lighted by oil lamps and most everyone knows one another. But the people are divided by more than just the sandy track that passes for Main Street.
Nearly all here agree that there is illness: mysterious lumps, skin rashes, dizziness and other ailments. But arguments over whether the cause is pollution from a nearby gold mine and whether the government should relocate the residents has pitted neighbor against neighbor as that intimate suffering is played out on a broader stage.
Today, Buyat Bay is the center of an expanding dispute being fought punch by counterpunch from the courts and government offices of Indonesia to the worn quarters of environmental groups and the lofty Denver base of the mine's operator, the Newmont Mining Corporation, the world's largest gold producer.

Francisco e-mails that "Science vs. Culture in Mexico's Corn Staple" by Elisabeth Malkin is "a story about a wide range of topics: science, Mexico, food, farming, government, ethics. There should be something in this story for everyone." From the article:

This is the birthplace of maize, where people took thousands of years to domesticate its wild ancestor, where pre-Hispanic myths describe it as a gift from the gods, and where cooks prepare it in dozens of ways to be served at every meal. So the discovery of genetically modified corn in the tiny plots here set off a national furor over what many here see as an assault by American agribusiness on the crop that is at the core of Mexico's identity.
"For us, maize is in everything: tamales, tacos, tortillas, pozole," said Miguel Ramírez, a local teacher who is active in community affairs. "For us it's sacred."
Then, radiating distrust of government assurances after a decade of free trade that has all but depopulated the Mexican countryside, he asked a familiar question here: "What is the government doing to make us self-sufficient?"

Ben e-mails regarding Damien Cave's front page story "For Army Recruiters, a Hard Toll From a Hard Sell." Ben writes "Please note this one paragraph because it's not at the start of the article and I think it could be read over quickly and not registered." Here's the paragraph Ben wants noted:

At least 37 members of the Army Recruiting Command, which oversees enlistment, have gone AWOL since October 2002, Army figures show. And, in what recruiters consider another sign of stress, the number of improprieties committed - signing up unqualified people to meet quotas or giving bonuses or other enlistment benefits to recruits not eligible for them - has increased, Army documents show.

And lastly, Rob e-mails asking that we highlight the Associated Press article that the Times runs on page A18, "Racial Tension Worries Families in Counties Near Los Angeles:"

Like thousands of other Californians, Crystal Farr moved her family to the inland suburbs of Los Angeles to live in housing less expensive than what she could find along the coast.
She says she is now questioning the wisdom of the move after the arrest of dozens of accused white supremacists and a number of racially charged incidents, including an attack on her teenage son.
Ms. Farr, who is black, said the arrests added to her feeling that not everyone is welcome in the region. "I like the community, but all this has made me have second thoughts," she said. "It's taken its toll on our family."

I ask that you note which has a video (Windows Media Player required) of John Bolton that you'll probably want to view.

The e-mail address for this site is and there will be other posts, much, much later today.