Saturday, May 21, 2005

Saturday Howler; BuzzFlash interview with James Carroll

I'm helping out with The Third Estate Sunday Review and this is the first break we've taken tonight (in answer to Jodi's question). This is a quick entry and probably a link fest.

We're going to start off with Bob Somerby because there are a number of e-mails on his entry Thursday. I was hoping that unless someone had something he or she wanted to share, we'd find other things to address. But due to the number of e-mails on this topic asking for me to weigh in, I'll weigh in. These are my opinions and I'm not attempting to speak for the community. (Nor do I intend to compile an entry of community responses.)

Bob Somerby questioned Katrina vanden Heuvel's stance re: the Newsweek story. He offered his critique as a media watcher. He has a set of principles/guidelines he uses to determine his critiques. By those principles/guidelines he had a problem with KvH's remarks. His opinion, he's entitled.

Katrina vanden Heuvel did not rely on the traditional idea of the public record. KvH relied on statements made by people who were held there. That's perfectly in keeping with her committment to social justice.

Somerby's critique is valid on his terms, KvH's remarks are valid on her's. Both do fine work, but they do approach from different angles. I didn't see the episode. (Nor did I read the transcript.) From previous viewings (some time ago, back when Donahue was on MSNBC), I know it can be hard for any guest to get a word in with Chris Matthews. Whether that came in to play or not, I don't know.

I do know that KvH was going to where the silence is. I also know that Somerby's going by the public record. For those who missed it, that's his entire point re: Newsweek. He feels that people are making statements that there's no backing for. He feels other things as well -- he may be one of the people who rightly pointed out that Newsweek is far from a liberal publication -- but that's one of his main points regarding the Newsweek controversy.

To attempt to nutshell Somerby's view (and I'm sure I will screw it up), they relied on a single source. Their source burned them. The problem with the press today is relying on single sourcing. Or one of the problems. A large number of people came to Newsweek defense. Somerby feels that Newsweek should have done basic journalism prior to the article appearing in print. I don't think anyone's questioning that among the community.

With regards to KvH, she spoke, as she always will and it's why members respond to her, on subjects that our mainstream media has not covered or has covered slightly. She took a social justice position based on information that hasn't gotten a great deal of traction. Somerby questioned the use of such material. Both positions are perfectly in keeping with both people.

Another reason for addressing it now is that Troy e-mails that "now Bob Somerby is going after Bill [Scher]. Are you going to say something?"

Now refers to a Saturday Daily Howler. Which I'd hoped to highlight earlier tonight but time slipped away on the last thing we were working on at Third Estate Sunday Review. Troy's seeing something in the entry that I'm not. Here's the section Troy's bothered by:

We can all feel especially lucky. We're lucky because, as it turns out, our big newspapers aren't "pieces of crap" after all; in fact, they represent "the current state of the art in human perfectibility." (Well, at least the New York Times does. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/20/05.) And if they weren't the next best thing to perfection, think how bad their coverage would be--of Priscilla Owen, for example.
With that in mind, be sure to read
this report in Liberal Oasis--a report critiquing Thursday's profile of Owen in the Los Angeles Times. We chuckled to think that the folks at Oasis didn’t realize what Blogger Pangloss explained--that they're only "enabling the right-wing agenda" when they pen such thoughtless critiques.

That is not an attack on Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis. You might need to read the Friday Howler to understand what Somerby's getting at, but there was a mind-your-manners critique that Somerby addressed on Friday. Somerby is mocking that mind-your-manners critique. He is not "attacking" Scher. He's saying that Scher's entry is worth reading. (And Lynne thinks so to and e-mailed on that late Friday night, but I only read it as I was going through the e-mails for this entry, sorry Lynne.)

I've got about three minutes left (which includes publishing and indexing time). So I'm not going to be able to highlight with excerpts on the next items. My apologies.

But I have no idea when the next break will come so I'll post them now as a head's up.

Working For Change has an article about BuzzFlash by Bill Berkowitz. A number of you have highlighted it this week. Beginning on Thursday, I believe. Ken e-mailed tonight to ask if I was ignoring it? I'm not ignoring it, I just haven't had time to read it. (When it first read an e-mail on it, it was right before Ruth and I did the interview. After the interview, I focused only on typing it up and getting it onto this site.)

On the subject of BuzzFlash, there are three e-mails about an interview they have with James Carroll who's written the new book Crusade (which I believe is a BuzzFlash premium) and is also a columnist for the Boston Globe.

I also am seeing seven e-mails on Dahr Jamails' "Coming Home." We've already linked to that. Perhaps the confusion is that we linked to it via Dahr's site and not Tomgram. So to read it at Tomgram, click the link.

If there's another break in the next few hours, we'll highlight the interview at BuzzFlash and the article on BuzzFlash. (I'm looking forward to reading both.) But it is shaping up to be a longer night/morning than expected so in case there's not time, check out the links for yourselves.

I'm already late so let me add, in case this is it for awhile, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, will be part of the roundtable on Sunday's ABC's This Week. Check your local listings. For most areas, if not all, it's a morning show.

The e-mail address for this site is

[Note: This post has been corrected to fix the links to Dahr Jamail's article at Tomgram.]