Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ava & C.I.:Oh, that's what it sounds like when mainstream reporters whine

For the record, we're largely inspired by dealing with Howard Kurtz's "For Every Story, An Online Epilogue: Via E-mail and Blog, Anyone's a Critic" from the Washington Post; Sydney H. Schanberg's "A Time for Disobedience" from the Village Voice and Candy Perfume Boy's "Lighting the Messenger on Fire." Kurtz's piece was the one Brad wanted comments on. But We were attempting to work on a TV review tonight but were instead caught up in the latest from Candy Perfume Boy. "Does he chew down on his pretty necklace as he types?" wondered one of us (as a joke).

Let's dispense with the candy quickly, Candy Perfume Boy closes with this:

This brave new world of incisive "media criticism" is a long way, it seems, from the time when "nattering nabobs of negativity" was considered a harsh shot at the fourth estate.
So, thank you, vitriolic bloggers, opportunistic politicians, and money-hungry commentators (not to mention, of course, Brent Bozell) for helping create an environment in which people can finally learn the truth about the scum who have the gall to bring them information.

Finally learn the truth about people bringing information?

Look, CPB, we honestly disagree with you politically and fear that you lack understanding of politics. Your necklace has grown on us, we're starting to get it, it's a look, very Rufus. And
we'll give you credit (this is Ava and C.I. speaking for Ava and C.I. only) for your parentheticals.
We love funny parentheticals. We live for the funny parenthetical. If we visited the site more (or your website) we'd probably find something to laugh with each time.

But ___'s e-mailed in to both of us that you are very hurt by something in the Third Estate Sunday Review. ____ claims to know you and says that this entry applies to us. Candy Perfume Boy, would we give you a name from a Madonna lyric if we didn't like you just a wee bit?

Here are our problems with you.

1) The Magazine report done by you never ceases to mention The New Republic. (Or pass it off as the voice of the left which is actually the most irritating.) We realize you're a working journalist and that they've published you, but lay off already. The New Republic doesn't even consider itself left (outside of Air America commercials). They've long lived (on life support and sewing dollars) as "the magazine even conservatives read."

We could be wrong and you may not be politically unaware but we prefer to think that. The alternative is too depressing.

We (speaking just for Ava and C.I.) thought it was funny when you responded to a Third Estate Sunday Review by using the same "HEART THE NEW REPUBLIC." (For other views you can see the roundtable discussion on the media.)

But though we've grown fond of you, Candy Perfume Boy, the mag report needed to expand and it shouldn't have taken others to inform CJR of that. Week after week? TNR each time? While other magazines on the left rarely get mentioned? Come on, CPB, you know we're right.

We're told Suzie Q actually mentioned Mother Jones today. That's a good step. But the fact remains that a one page op-ed from The Nation isn't covering The Nation. It's not even including it in the discussion. Christian Parenti has too long been ignored. Patricia J. Williams, Naomi Klein and others as well. The Nation has been ignored. Yes, there's been a mention or two of late. But, as was noted at The Third Estate Sunday Review, just putting out an issue shouldn't be reason to include The New Republic in the magazine report. (Although with the continued flat circulation for the rag, putting out an issue might in itself be a miracle.)

From a journalistic standpoint, the Mag Report's doing nothing for readers if you give the mainstream, the center and the right week after week. You're not informing the public.
We shouldn't have to point that out to an offshoot of CJR. Meet the Press, absolutely they do a lousy job with their guest bookings. But we expect a little more from CJR and any offshoot of it.

2) The disclosure issue is another issue that we shouldn't have had to raise. CJR is supposed to be a watchdog. It's imperative that disclosures be made (in mag reports and blog reports).

When the watchdog risks becoming part of the same "circle jerk" Bill Keller's going on about, that's a problem.

3) As snide and silly as you can be, we honestly didn't think our humor would hurt you. If it has, we'll remind you it was humor and it had a point to it. (Like good humor should.) But you've gone beyond Brian Montopoli in our minds (Ava and C.I.'s), you're now Candy Perfume Boy and you amuse us so much more as that!

4) We stand by our criticisms. We also stand by our jokes. If the jokes were not understood on your end as a joke, speaking only for ourselves, they were a joke. You can e-mail a public reply or a private reply at common_ills@yahoo.com where all e-mails are private and only we (Ava and C.I.) will see it. But ___ claims to be your friend and states that we touched on something
in passing that was upsetting to you. (If you have no idea what we're speaking of, then it was a crank e-mail and those come in all the time. This person gave specifics of you and knew your career very well.)

Again, we speak only for us and will not try to put words into the mouths of others.

But there's a world of difference between Candy Perfume Boy, who we think means well, and Adam Nagourney's incessent whining. There's also the fact that Candy Perfume Boy has less to work to do towards getting back to the truth. (As members of this site know, Nagourney bungled a poll report/summary and also missed the big story of the DNC race. Repeatedly.)
CPB just has to open has to start living up to standards that we believe (right or wrong) he already holds dear. The Nags Boy?

Ay-yi-yi, what can you say about a whiner named Nags Boy?

He had an e-mail exchange with "George" ("George" is not a public person therefore his real name has never been used at this site). Brad sends in Howie Kurtz' article and yet again Nags Boy is whining.

Nags Boy, how insulated are you? How much ass have you kissed in your life if the most threatening e-mail you've ever received is one stating that they hoped your children died in a Republican war? That's a threat? That makes you cower?

Our TV reviews prompt e-mails that go far beyond the "scratch your eyes out" we quoted this past Sunday. We've been threatened with something more than hopes. We've had people claim they knew where we lived and that they were following us. We've had lengthy e-mails about exactly which body part would be their first choice to dismember.

We don't whine about it. And Nags Boy, those are threats. Whether we should worry about them or not, they're threats. You've led a very sheltered life if "George" tops your list.

And if you're mistaking a "hope" for a "threat" . . . well that explains the sloppy journalism.

You're not the only whiner. We get a Washington Post whiner as well. We believe he also whined during the debates about getting too much e-mail. Here's a suggestion, don't make your e-mail public.

When we get I-will-kill-you-and-this-is-how e-mail, we usually dismiss it flat out and don't give it too much thought. (Two people did describe, in detail, clothes that we wore, either via a lucky guess or because they truly are "watching" us.)

But for professional journalists to whine about non-threats and too much e-mail strikes us as pretty sad. And for Nags Boy to continue to whine about a "hope" he sees as a "threat" and for Kurtz to not ask him exactly why Nags Boy felt the need to forward the e-mail over to Daniel Okrent wasn't great journalism. Nags Boy came off like a little fourth grader wanting to engage in taunts but still turning around to run to the teacher and cry, "Do you-do you know what he did!"

At The Common Ills and Third Estate Sunday Review, we hear from the press. "How dare we!" That's the general tone. Or, in one groaner of an e-mail, you are destroying my life!

We'd like to note that the person who e-mailed that their life was being destroyed also took the time to e-mail that they loved, loved the Smallville review we did.

Now answer a question here, do you think Tom Welling loved, loved that review? (We doubt he saw it.) Or how about when Alessandra Stanley went off some looney Jackie Collins TV movie or mini-series starring Farrah Fawcett (among others)? Do you think Farrah Fawcett liked that? (If she saw it?)

In your paper's own pages, humor (we assume it's humor) is utilized and sometimes people are just downright rude. (Janet Maslin, as hard as she tries, just can't pull off bitchy -- it requires more talent than she has.)

But with Smallville, we were evaluating a TV show. And the e-mail on that from you was full of praise. But when we apply the same standards to reviewing your writing, you have a problem.
A number of you have written but the policy at The Common Ills is that it's private unless you state otherwise so we're sorry if a few people are confused here. (And I, C.I., will add that I'm not speaking to the reporter I addressed earlier at this site in the entry about how I would have loved to have replied to your e-mail -- which made me laugh many times over and had points I agreed with and points I disagreed with.)

There seems to be an attitude in the Kurtz piece (by all but the ABC reporter) that somehow a reporter is above criticism. Want to be above criticism? Do your job. (Though you'll still be criticized, you can take comfort in the fact that the criticism is not valid for the most part.)

But considering that bitchy reviews started long before the blogs, this attitude of "oh the pain I'm caused" seems a bit much. Drama queens (of all genders and sexualities) would do better to
stop being so sensitive.

What really bothers us about the Kurtz piece was an attitude that seemed to be implied by Nags Boy and the Wash Post writer of "We will accept criticism on our terms." Guess what? That's not how it works. You had your say. People will have their's. You disagree? That's fine. But you are not the police of the world and you are not above criticism.

And Kurtz may give Nags Boy, for instance, an easy ride about his running to teacher when someone expressed a hope, but we won't. Maybe the reason you harp so on the "George" e-mail is because you feel that by making it into something so huge, it will justify the actions that followed -- publishing "George"'s name and his location? That it will justify what Daniel Okrent did -- something Randy Cohen believes got him censured? Your hands aren't clean there, Nags Boy. And since you've yet to disown Okrent's actions, we'd argue your culpable.

There's this attitude in the article (we're speaking of statements and summaries of statements; we have no idea what Kurtz himself believes and, again, the ABC reporter struck us as the only one operating out of common sense) that you can criticize but you should criticize the way we want you to.

The world doesn't work that way. Your space is the Times and whomever wants to interview you. In those spaces, you can set your terms. But you can't set your terms with the world and you might be better off letting go of the control issues.

What really bothered us is that coming on the heels of Candy Perfume Boy's piece, the attitude might seep into others. "Oh, that's right. We should only comment under these guidelines."

That doesn't need to happen.

People need to speak in their own voices. There are enough "gatekeepers" in this world without you're encouraging readers who e-mail you and bloggers to speak the way you want them to.

CJR proper had an article on Bob Somerby (The Daily Howler). Steve Twomey wrote the article. And we got the "clutch the pearls" response from some people quoted in the article. "Oh, don't speak like that." Why not?

First of all, papers have long spoken "like that." The editorial attack on NOW for endorsing a Democratic primary candidate spoke like that. (And let's note again, no one else got trashed for endorsing, just NOW. Unions endorsed. They didn't get trashed. They weren't accused of being frivilous or wasteful. Their candidate didn't make it on to the ticket, but they didn't get trashed. Just NOW got trashed.) Papers do it everyday in their book reviews (or "reports" if Maslin or one of her kind is the author), film reviews, music reviews, etc. What about the nasty little thing on Tori Amos' book?

I don't recall Ad Nags bringing that up to Kurtz. Quit living in glass houses and get over yourselves. Quit clutching the pearls and acting like certain criticism is beyond the pale.

We both know many long term journalists. Some moved on to other fields, some just retired and some are still working but they aren't impressed with the work of Adam Nagourney or a Dexter Filkins or a Elisabeth Bumiller.

And I'm sure Ad Nags knows that. (If he didn't, somebody lift him off the floor because he's probably just had a fainting spell.) Have anyone, for instance, missed Carl Bernstein's criticism of the news media in the last few years?

The mainstream news media has been attacked from the right for years and the result is that they lean right now. Will this anger the right? That's a question asked about two editorials of two papers last month. The right's potential reaction is factored in.

On the left, there's been an attitude of "we'll we're above that." If by above that, someone means we're above making up "facts" to attack someone with, let's hope we are. But if by above that, someone means that we must mind our ps & qs when critiquing, they're dead wrong.

And what the CJR article on Somerby didn't tell you (Twomey may not have known) was that Somerby has been read at the Times. And on some issues of coverage, Somerby did have an impact.

"Oh, it's just so nasty and rude!" exclaims the pearl clutcher.

The pearl clutchers only feel it's nasty when it's about them. The same people who e-mail to say they were treated unfairly are usually the first to e-mail hoseannas of "you nailed ___ good!" And does anyone at the Times who e-mails not gossip about their fellow employees?
The rumors of John F. Burns and Dexter Filkins' alleged affairs didn't make it into e-mails which is surprising since e-mails critique everything from office politics, stolen bylines, child raising, marital fidelty, you name it, have made it into the e-mails.

We're not above criticism (Ava and C.I.) and we've dished it and can take it in return. But a number of journalist seem to think that they are above it. That somehow they're beyond reproach. And no one can or should mock them.

In the case of Nags Boy, maybe you've been mocked so because you pushed the "values" non-story (one you retracted in January) even when Frank Rich was saying it wasn't reality. You massaged raw data from a poll to get the results you wanted. (Which, for instance, meant lumping two responses together here and not lumping together similar response elsewhere.)

When you reported on the DNC race, you reportedon it with what appeared to be "here's the acceptable choice." It's not just Howard Dean that got ignored by you, it was other candidates as well. Now maybe that wasn't a case of your playing favorites? Maybe you just thought ___ was going to be the DNC chair? If that's the case, then take a lesson: you're not good at predicting.

You could have covered all the candidates equally. You didn't do that.

If people are frustrated with your writing, examples like the above may be why.

And in conducting yourself in that manner, you left the area of "serious journalist."

It's a shame MORE's not still around and that most people are unaware of it because it could be quite lively in it's criticism (it was peer journal -- journalists criticizing other journalists).

There's not a great deal being said in e-mails or on blogs that couldn't have been said in MORE.
And there's not a lot said in e-mails or on blogs that isn't already being said about the mainstream news media by old-timers who cut their teeth on real news and are dismayed that news has become a horse race or water cooler topics passed off as hard news topics.

If you feel the criticism demeans the profession, a number people feel that the modern day press has demeaned the profession.

And possibly that's why Sydney H. Schanberg has to write "A Time for Disobedience: Faced with Bush's lockdown on information, reporters have to stand up?" Or, to paraphrase Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Liasons, let's just say you've spent your life making this criticism necessary.

The right's response over the last years have led to the press walking on egg shells for fear of offending that segment. In the Senate right now, the Democrats are showing bits of spine and being tagged obstructionists as a result. That's what happens when you don't play the victim.
And whether the reporters clutching the pearls realize it or not, they're doing the same thing.
They're saying, "Off limits!" They're saying, "Back off!"

They don't own the playbook. They don't call the shots in the world. They can write about whatever they want in their own periodicals but the reality is the world they bother to cover gets smaller and smaller. Which reporter does the labor beat these days? Who's covering Nepal on the same scale as the Pope or Michael Jackson or whatever other water cooler topic?

"Synergry" and monopolies have resulted in fewer and fewer voices in the mainstream press. Most of the ones who hang around all seem to speak in the same voice. So maybe the last thing an upcoming medium needs to do is take advice from an industry that preaches conformity and sameness.

We can both think of two bloggers who will rush in to clutch the pearls and say, "That's what I've been talking about! We must play nice!"

You want to play nice, you play nice. We'll call it like we see it.

The press didn't stop running their editorials telling African-Americans to "know their place" because people played nice. They didn't stop ridiculing the feminist movement because people played nice. Choose your example, any example.

The press will only change when it's forced to do so.

I'm sure Ad Nags would appreciate it if people backed off. He could go back to his safe-world where he never does anything wrong and he's always right. If you want to help him get there, that's your business but he's been there already for how long? And what has he learned from his safe little cocoon?

The media has never been perfect, it's made up of people and people aren't perfect. But there's a tendency for people to court "respectability" and that worries us. Any inroads that have been made in the left waking up (and some on the left were always awake) will be closed to all traffic once the whiners get their way and we go back to criticizing them on their terms.

You can see the Dems in the Senate at a loss of how to conduct themselves. The proper response to obstructionist charges isn't to say "oh, we better find a compromise on some issues!"
It's to (we belive, and we could be wrong) say, "We're fighting for the country and we're fighting for what we believe in."

We both read the Times, so we'll focus on that for a moment. Where are the follow up articles on the RNC arrests? Does one article (and one editorial) cover what was done? No, it doesn't.
Bully Boy's iPod and anything else are passed off as news, but real news has to fight to be in the paper. And we're fighting for real news here. We're not going to back down because you think a discussion can only be conducted on your terms.

Why do you get to set the terms? Haven't you done that long enough? Haven't we seen what comes from you setting the terms? Is Judith Miller working on the Iran WMDs stories yet?

E-mailers and bloggers have gotten under the skins of a few. That's good news. The Times, to stay on that, has been comfy for far too long.

During the intial coverage of the tsunami, readers of the Times saw how powerful the paper was and how it still was relevant. But too often it's not. Not just because it's a slow news day but because they're ignoring important stories.

If Nags Boy wants to whimper now about how the world is just so cruel, I think there are a lot of people the Times have ignored whose families wish they were still around to whimper. But the Times took a pass on covering those issues. Nags Boys is happy to be feted on the NewsHour and elsewhere. He should realize that criticism comes with the package. And if an e-mail bothers him so, there's a button we'd like to educate him on: delete. Just delete Nags Boy.
If the criticism continues to haunt you after, well then maybe the e-mailer had a point?

AlterNet has an article by John Byrne (of The Raw Story) about MoveOn.org. We're sure that some "spokespeople" will come out of their tony enclaves to bemoan MoveOn.org and speak of the destructive power of the ads. We applaud the ads. (And wish MoveOn.org would resume their intense focus on Iraq.) And when softer bellies rush out to condemn MoveOn.org, if nothing else it will show the country that there is a left. The converstation goes beyond the extreme right, the right, the slightly right and the center. Voices are not being included in the discussion.

So when a Nags Boy suggests that there's a place for you at the table if you temper your comments, you might want to ask yourselves why you'd even want to sit at the table knowing what you know?

The week that Ann Coulter makes the cover of Time is not the week to fall for the line that we need to temper our remarks. That's not saying ape Coulter by any means. That is saying the press will court the right. Throwing Ann on the cover means she may not criticize Time. (Since she's already whining about her cover photo, that's unlikely.) If in her misguided, cracked mind manner she can stick to her guns and still get the cover of Time, what makes you think that you should stop your mocking or your ridicule?

The mainstream is shocked, just shocked, that the left would fight back.

Let 'em stay shocked. We've fallen into access and appeasement traps for too long. They have set the rules all this time and the result has been that the left has had to strengthen their media already in existance and create new ones. Having done nothing to aid in the building of those forms, some in the mainstream press now want to come along and say, "We'd like you better if you played on our terms." Right back at you.

So don't let them set the terms.

They've played gatekeeper long enough.

Speak in your own voice. That's not speak like us, that's speak in your own voice. We may disagree with you but we'll respect you for speaking in your own voice. And if you're of the left, realize how silenced we've been by the mainstream.

If you're a blogger and you have over a million readers a month or one, realize that by being authentic, you're allowing someone to realize that the left goes beyond Joe Lieberman or The New Republic or any other middle of the roader.

Anyone who's running a site from the left has surely gotten at least one e-mail that starts out, "I thought I was the only one who felt that way . . ." Who gave them that impression?

We'll cite Joe Biden because we assume he'll get a lot of praise for his actions today (and he should). By being authentic, you're making it that much harder for Biden to be tarred a flaming liberal. You're doing him a favor because right now in this country, there are people who've been led to believe that Trent Lott or whomever is only slightly off-center.

That's what happens when the dialogue is reduced, a middle-of-the-road Democrat can be painted as a flaming liberal and the public will buy it.

And if you fall into the trap of letting the mainstream set the terms, you may win "respectability" but you lose who you are.

Bob Somerby is a great writer. And if tomorrow he wrote, "Hey, the press is doing a great job!" and continued to write those type of pieces, he'd be given a berth on an op-ed page immediately.
But he sticks to his beliefs and that's why The Daily Howler matters. That's why it's worth reading.

Amy Goodman has to know that if she tempered her criticism of the Times, she'd have a nice, juicy profile in a minute. She's written a best selling book. She's popular. She's smart. She has the qualifications that would allow her to "blend" if she chose to do so. In terms of physical comfort, life would probably be a lot more enjoyable for her if she played the game. But she sticks to her beliefs because she realizes that what passes for discussion is limited and limiting in the mainstream.

In our eyes, Bob Somerby and Amy Goodman are on the short list of journalists who will be remembered for what they did. Elisabeth Bumiller has no legacy (other than as a punch line and that will fade in time unless she becomes short-hand for fluff reporting -- "Oh, you really pulled a Bumiller!" or "What was I thinking? I pulled a Bumiller!"). There were Bumillers before her and there will be Bumillers after her. They don't get remembered.

On the left (we're a site for the left so we focus on the left, the right can come up with their own lists at their sites), people like I.F. Stone are remembered not because they filed X number of pieces in the Times, but because their reporting was of value. Gloria Steinem was someone the press ridiculed (after she became active in the feminist movement) and mocked (as Naomi Wolf was wrongly slammed in the Gore campaign, so was Steinem in the McGovern campaign-- they tried to say she picked out McGovern's socks for him). She stuck to her voice and her beliefs and has created a legacy. She will be remembered.

Those are the sort of things people need to remember right now when certain gatekeepers come calling to suggest that if you play by their terms, you can be accepted. Their terms are probably why you're speaking out now in your own voice. So don't fall for their trap.

They've had more than enough time to fix themselves and they've refused too. No one outside the Times, for instance, prevented it from covering the Poor People's March in August, or the protests in D.C. during the recent inauguration. (One Saturday story "joshing" about a 'near nude' topless woman didn't cut it, Grey Lady.) They made those decisions based on what they thought was important. So when they want to suggest you ape them, why would you want to?
Why would you want to be anything like that?

It's about integrity and it's about raising awareness of the left. We've got The Nation (the best selling weekly political periodical -- not The New Republic), we've got The Progressive, In These Times, Clamor, Left Turn, Ms., BuzzFlash, AlterNet, The Raw Story, The Black Commentator (congratulations on three years), Bartcop, Why Are We Back In Iraq?, Iddybud, Democracy Now!, The Daily Howler, Liberal Oasis, Atrios (congratulations on three years), The Daily Kos, Big Brass Blog, INDYMEDIA, TV Lies, Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude -- outside of parenthesis, that blog name would be lost), Ms. Musing, FAIR, GNN, CounterPunch, Chicana on the Edge, Third Wave Agenda, A Winding Road, Loaded Mouth, Corrente, News Dissector, wotisitgood4, Science and Politics, Feministe, Interesting Times, Seeing the Forest, Crooks & Liars, James Wolcott, The Left Coaster, BlackFeminism.org, The Rude Pundit, Thomas Friedman is a Great Man (parody site for anyone not familiar with it who reads the title and freaks), Media Matters, No Logo, Free Speech Radio News, Juan Cole, Tom Hayden, Iraq Dispatches, Brad DeLong, Air America (Rachel Maddow, Laura Flanders, Randi Rhodes, Janeane Garofalo, Laura Flanders, Mike Papantonio & Bobby Kennedy, Kyle Jason, Mike Malloy . . .) and this isn't a complete list. These are just the names that popped into our heads immediately.

There are many other sites (and most Common Ills members could double that list in about two minutes) you can go to read, watch or listen. Think about the structure that has sprung up. All the voices, all these voices and more, that you won't hear reflected in the mainstream. Unless the people start tempering their remarks and playing by the rules Nags Boy and others want you to play by.

All of those voices are speaking their truths and maybe you agree with all of them or with some of them or with a few of them. But they're not sites you're seeking out because they're telling you what Cokie Roberts (no, we never give tired of insulting her) or others of the chat & chew class are telling you. And if the press did their job in conveying the true depth of the debate (on both sides, but again, we focus on the left at The Common Ills), you might not need these sites.
(For one thing, a great many of these people would have been snatched up by the Washignton Post or the New York Times and allowed to write in their own voices.) You certainly wouldn't need The Common Ills because TCI is just a resource/review. The voices that you're steered to here would be known and short of being a Tiger Beat for the left, there would be no reason for it to exist.

While we (speaking only for us) haven't given up on the mainstream press and still hold out hope that it will return to true reporting, the fact remains that it hasn't thus far. And if people in the mainstream press are uncomfortable with criticism, that's too bad. We're tired of Sunday main sections that read like lifestyle magazines. Until things improve, we honor the right to mock, to joke, to ridicule or speak truth to power in any way we or someone else feels necessary.

In our TV reviews, we avoid extended critiques on child actors, they are children after all. Other than that, we're not going to hold back. If Nags Boy or someone else wants to pass themselves off as professional then their professionalism is open to critique. They'd do well to be a little less thin skinned.

Which brings us back to Candy Perfume Boy. We're not backing off from our humor. We see CPB as a running gag. But we are serious that if we touched on something that we thought was just a joke but is actually an issue with you (CPB), please let us know (common_ills@yahoo.com, we'll both read it and the rules of privacy apply). We feel that you are capable of so much more than you are doing, but we do not hate you and we've grown fond of our CPB. We also realize that you are relatively young in your career which is why we gave you a nickname like CPB (from a Madonna song) and not something along the lines of "Elite Fluff Patrol Squad Leader."

There is a different standard for you than for someone like Adam Nagourney. If you, or Suzie Q. to whom we're just neutral -- though we understand from e-mails that she did a great Magazine Report today -- weren't working for a watchdog, you never would have crossed our radar. But we do stand by our criticism. We also stand by the jokes. But we're told that one joke made you think we're were knocking you for ____. If ___ is indeed true, we honestly had no idea and were just trying to be silly. Let us know if ___ is an issue and we'll still have tons to joke about without using that.

-- Ava & C.I.