Sunday, June 05, 2005

Bob Somerby (Daily Howler), Paul McLeary (CJR Daily), Danny Schechter (Media Dissector)

Bob Somerby's Saturday Daily Howler went up today. Here's an excerpt of Somerby's critique of a "kiss-kiss" to Okrent (I love that -- "kiss-kiss" -- reminds me of Pauline Kael's collection entitled Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang):

In short, we are seeing a fiery young liberal dissembling with just about every breath--and every liberty is being taken to play kiss-kiss with Great Okrent. Indeed, as Manjoo continues, Okrent is brilliant again--and once again, Krugman is played as the loud, over-bearing fellow who simply won’t shut the f*ck up:
MANJOO (7): Okrent predicts that Krugman won't rest until he gets the last word, and he's right. Krugman, in the final entry, writes that Okrent was dead-wrong on everything, "and now he's not enough of a mensch to admit his error."

The over-bearing Krugman is at it again--he "won't rest until he gets in the last word," just as brilliant Okrent predicted. Once again, this is Manjoo's way of describing a perfectly appropriate response (by Krugman) to a nasty, unsupported attack (by Okrent). What could make a fiery young liberal have such an odd reaction?

On the above, I'll note that the e-mail Dallas forwarded (that he sent to the Times to complain of Okrent) about who was trying to have the "last word." It wasn't Krugman. It was Okrent. Okrent, in his final kiss off to readers, felt the need to weigh in (with not evidence given) on Krugman and without getting a comment from Krugman. Having been trashed in print (at his own paper), Krugman sought to reply to that. That should have been the end of it. The looney Okrent had his say, Krugman responded.

Instead, Last-Word Okrent had to have one more reply (always) and seems to forget that he's no longer working for the Times and that the space (public editor space) belongs to another now. Go away Okrent, go quickly away.

He wasted readers times, as Dallas pointed out in his e-mail to the Times, with self-interviews (because surely Okrent is the most important person in the world apparently), talk of his vacations, trashing the Tonys (what is his problem?) and calling them a "racket," . . . The "bravery" he demonstrated taking on the Tonys was not to be found in other columns. (His belated column on the Judith Miller, et al, reporting in the paper came only after readers pointed out he'd broken his rule not to comment on what had been printed at the paper before he was public editor when he wrote of the past Tony coverage prior to the Times covering the nominations.)

It was always "what I want to write about" with Okrent. Sometimes he wanted to write about "left" and "right." Or to refer to criticism from those poles. But he never wanted to address substantive charges of errors in the paper. These weren't errors that required him to wade through partisanship, these were factual errors that the paper never corrected. Whether it was creating titles for someone (titles that didn't exist) or skewing reporting by leaving out facts, basic errors that would never pass a fact check (whether one was partisan or not) were never addressed. He was a lousy "public editor." Having wasted readers' time with "what I want to write about," he now refuses to shut up. He won't go away.

If someone's trying to have the "last word," it's obviously Okrent. Dallas suggested, to the Times, that if Okrent had anything further to say, he needs to do so in a letter to the editor that may or may not be printed by the Times. In case the news hasn't sunk in, the paper has a new public editor. Okrent needs to walk on,

We're going to quote another section of Somerby (read the full column) because it made me think of the upcoming edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. He's responding to an e-mailer who stated that this is all about -- the kiss-kiss, the foppishness, the let's-play-liberal -- about liberals attempting to see both sides:

We don't buy it. As we incomparably told the mailer, we remember a time when liberals were in the street every day, yelling, "Hey hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" Those liberals were not "bending over backwards to appear open-minded," nor were they "too broad-minded to take their own side in a quarrel." They were actually trying to win. As a result, they had no trouble framing a short, concise message, and they were more than willing to shout it in public. Whatever you may think of their stance, those liberals actually cared about the topic in question; they actually cared about the outcome of the day's political battles. But as we've watched "TV liberals" for the past dozen years, we have rarely seen any sign that they actually care very much about outcomes. In the present day, most of them wouldn't enact the Bush agenda themselves, but they show no sign of actually caring about whether or not the agenda wins. And there's nothing you can do to make them mad; they proved that in their acquiescence to the two-year press corps war that finally brought Candidate Bush to the White House. What kind of "liberal" would put up with that? Simple--the kind who isn't a liberal at all, the kind of "liberal" we currently see taking gas all over TV.

Keesha sent in this from CJR Daily. It was published May 27th but it's more than worth noting because it's a strong piece (and praise to CJR Daily for it). Paul McLeary's "'Civil War' Discovered in Iraq -- Again:"

To read reports of the continuing violence in Iraq is to risk a bad case of dejá vu. Each time the violence either spikes or ebbs, the media appear, on the one hand, shocked anew at the volume and ferocity of the killing, or, on the other hand, cautiously optimistic that the insurgency may be faltering.
As a result of this trend-heavy groupthink, we've seen the coverage of the war fall into a somewhat predictable cyclical pattern, where current stories read almost exactly like the ones we read a few months -- or at this point even years -- ago.
The New York Times
runs once such article today, which seems at first glance to offer a fresh angle, describing the violence in Iraq as "civil war," -- or at least alluding to it as "sectarian" killing. The piece notes that "amid violence that has taken more than 550 lives across Iraq this month, [there is] renewed concern that the bloodshed may be shifting ever more toward crudely sectarian killings."
Truth be told, the idea that the violence in Iraq is devolving into a civil war is nothing new. In fact, intelligence analysts, military officials and U.S. Senators have been warning of civil war for quite some time. It's just that at the moment the Times, and a few other news outlets, are circling back to the premise as if it were a fresh one.

Martha e-mailed to note Danny Schechter's piece "CNN at 25: 'The World's Most Trusted Network:'"

CNN went on the air 25 years ago this June 1 from the basement of what had been a Jewish country club in Atlanta. The UN flag was flying overhead as Ted Turner proclaimed his cable revolution with the announcement that the channel that the big broadcasters then dismissed as the Chicken Noodle Network would stay on the air until the end of the world, fully report its demise and then play "Nearer My God to Thee" as was done on the deck of the titanic.The "mouth from the South" who would become a media mogul is now writing articles on the dangers of big media (penned by PBS's Pat Mitchell, a prominent "Turner turnover" who is herself on the way out). He spared no adjective as a one-man hype machine for the promise of a new global news order. He was audacious, bold and charismatic, but the institution that is his legacy is anything but.It has become a bland brand, more packaged than passionate with its prime competitor and arch-enemy Fox News the new innovator and home of controversy. CNN as "rebel" has been trumped by Fox as renegade.

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Note: This was intended to be posted Saturday (as was another post that will go up shortly). My apologies.