Monday, May 23, 2005

Democracy Now: Janine di Giovanni, Davey D;

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching"):

Headlines for May 23, 2005
- 15,000 Forces Launch Offensive In Baghdad
- Top Counter-Insurgency Iraqi Commander Assassinated
- Report: U.S. Plans To Build Four New Bases In Iraq
- FBI Seeks Greater Power to Track Mail
- Army Recruiter Arrested For Raping Recruit
- Amnesty To Support War Resister Jeremy Hinzman
- Major Papers Show No Photos of Dead U.S. Troops in Iraq
- Secret Report Raises Fears Over GM Crops

Bearing Witness: War Correspondent Janine di Giovanni On Reporting From the Battleground
"In the 1990s, a series of violent wars kept coming, like wave after brutal wave," says di Giovanni. "I was part of an elite, tight band of international reporters – a tribe, really – who roamed the earth, working from front lines or cities under siege. In those days, we rarely wore flak jackets. But we believed in the stories we were reporting, in the importance of bearing witnesses to evil regimes, to ethnic cleansing, to genocide and systematic rape. After Israel came Bosnia. After Bosnia, Rwanda. Liberia. Congo. Chechnya. Sierra Leone. East Timor. Ivory Coast. Zimbabwe. Somalia. Afghanistan. Iraq." [includes rush transcript]

Hip Hop Historian Davey D on "The Clear Channeling" of America
Over 2,000 people converged in St. Louis, Missouri last weekend for the second-ever National Conference on Media Reform. Among the keynote speakers was journalist, hip hop historian and radio DJ, Davey D of Pacifica Radio station KPFA. He spoke about the "Clear Channleing" of America and the hip hop generation. [includes rush transcript]

Democracy Now! is always jam packed with information and solid reporting. We'll be highlighting one issue from today's broadcast later in its own entry at Elaine's request.

At The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby is focusing on many topics (including Pat Tillman and Newsweek). The entire Howler is worth reading but we'll note his comments on Daniel Okrent's farewell to/kiss off of the readers:

Let's be fair to Okrent’s general complaint. Okrent feels the Times' publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, should "hold his columnists to higher standards." (Oddly, he makes no mention of Gail Collins, who is nominally in charge of op-eds.) But what a truly incredible way to make the case for this claim! In the case of Dowd and Safire, Okrent at least provides specific complaints--and yes, his complaints are at least semi-valid. Dowd's "quaint" quote was yanked out of context (many pundits and pols continue to do this with this cagily clipped quotation), and Safire's claims about Saddam and al Qaeda have been widely criticized. But what about Krugman? Okrent goes after his troubling poster boy hard--but he doesn't cite a single specific example of the gentleman’s troubling conduct! He calls Krugman every name in the book--but after eighteen months on the job, he doesn't give a single example of Krugman's deeply disturbing conduct. How exactly is someone like Krugman supposed to respond to such work?
For the record, Krugman is quite a bum--if you listen to Okrent. According to the exercised editor, Krugman "has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers." Beyond that, Krugman is "ideological" and "unfair," Okrent says--and he seems to say that the slippery scribe selects his misleading numbers in a fashion designed to "please his acolytes." These are very nasty charges. But in the style of classic hit-and-run bullies, Okrent provides no examples of his target's troubling conduct, and he bravely offers these ringing complaints in his final public editor column, depriving Krugman of a chance to respond (and knowing he won't have to defend himself against the complaints that will come).
How big and brave is the mighty Okrent--this big, bold man who slithers away with so many loud complaints? The big, brave fellow had eighteen months to offer examples of Krugman's misconduct, but even now, he offers none. Instead, he waits until his final column--then hits and runs with his unexplained slams. But at least he provides us a few mordant chuckles, in the manner of flyweights worldwide. In his very next item--undiscussed Topic 3--Okrent complains that three other writers have failed to let the great New York Times serve “as a guardian of civil discussion!” Was this an attempt at comic relief? Or is it the sign of a consummate flyweight--the sign of a man who waded far over his head when offered this unwise assignment?

We're going to pick up on this topic in another entry tonight. The Third Estate Sunday Review and Somerby have weighed in. I didn't even want to read Okrent's last column. An e-mail today pointed out something and I read the column. I found something else that was disgusting so I'll be noting what a member noted as well as the other issue in a later entry tonight.

And that's not a slam at either Somerby or The Third Estate Sunday Review gang. I did phone Jim and Ava today to ask them if they'd noted the point I was going to address. There were so many slurs and self-justifications being tossed around by Okrent in his thirteen bullet points that some things slipped by. Ava and Jim both agreed that the part I asked them about was something they would have addressed if they'd noted it. (Ty found Okrent's last column online while everyone was looking for an editorial topic to toss out. The editorial is the last thing written at The Third Estate Sunday Review other than the note to the readers. All of us had a topic, Ava, Jim, Ty, Dona and Jess of Third Estate Sunday Review, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man and myself. We were all in agreement that this was worthy of an editorial. When Jim stated that they would be referencing The Common Ills, I excused myself from any input in the editorial. Since I wasn't providing input and since Third Estate Sunday Review was doing an editorial, I was happy to let them weigh in and let that be the end of Okrent. But a member raised an issue and when I read the rantings of Okrent, I found another issue. So look for that at this site later tonight.)

Natalie e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's latest Editor's Cut:

Kudos to veteran 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer for lambasting the New York Times for its "paean" to Wal-Mart heir Alice Walton, and taking aim at Wal-Mart's "systematic obliteration of thousands of family businesses and of course the creation of hundreds of thousands of sweatshop jobs."
Safer's letter (posted below) succintly captures the grand irony of Walton's recent $35 million purchase of a famous landscape painting. ("All that Wal-Mart money was gleaned from the systematic destruction of the very American landscape Ms. Walton so expensively celebrates.")

Keesha e-mails to note Ruth Conniff's Monday blog entry "We Must Denounce Torture:"

Every American should be filled with anger and disgust at the continuing revelations of torture by U.S. troops. Sadism run amok led to the death of an innocent taxi driver at the Bagram prison camp in Afghanistan. Dilawar, the 22-year-old taxi driver, who had the misfortune to drive by an American base that had been a terrorist target, was thought to be an innocent bystander even by his torturers. Yet they hung him by his arms, crucifixion-style, tormented, and killed him anyway, apparently for their own pleasure.
We must denounce these crimes--at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, at Bagram, and wherever else they occur. They are happening in our name. They are contrary to everything a civilized society should stand for.

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