Thursday, June 09, 2005

The community reaction to Felicity Barringer's comments

603 or 604 e-mails arrived on Felicity Barringer's comments. (Jim insists it was 604. Jess, Dona, Ty and Ava insist it was 604. I got 602, always check my math.)

No one agreed with Barringer's opinion. (All clearly felt it was opinion.)

Some started arriving last night and some were read by this morning (I read everyone that came in). By this morning, I knew there were too many to do an entry on it. Call me a "gatekeepr" if you want and I'll plead guilty on it in this instance.

In terms of the site, as our numbers have grown and grown and . . . there's been very little time to pull together voices on an issue. I personally (my opinion) (as always, I could be wrong) don't see the point in our "return" to a post of members voices being about a Times reporter's opinion.
We've done lighter topics, to be sure. We did favorite movies and we did favorite song. Usually, we're weighing in on Iraq or something in the news.

Personally, I don't have the time to extract quotes from all those e-mails and get them up in one evening. And one comment that many echoed was that a response needed to be made immediately. I think members would be more upset if they stayed up tonight (or woke up tomorrow morning) and there was nothing up about this.

Reading over some of the e-mails this morning, it was obvious that we could give up the Thursday spotlight to alternative media and focus on Barringer or we could stick to our own schedule and post a summary.

Even with that, the work was going to be too much for me to pull together in a number of hours.
So I contacted Ava and Jess this morning and asked them if they could help and if they could check with Jim, Dona and Ty on this as well. All were willing to assist on this.

The comments largely had general themes (and we'll be dealing with those shortly) but I didn't trust that my eyes alone, hurrying through the e-mails would be able to determine every point that a number of you felt was important to make. Thank you to everyone who weighed in and thank you to Jess, Ava, Ty, Jim and Dona for the time they spent reading over these today and for the three hour discussion they participated on this topic tonight. (As every member knows, Dona, Ty, Jim, Ava and Jess are community members. They also run their own site, The Third Estate Sunday Review.)

I'm going to start by noting the forty-two (a figure we all agreed upon) who are personally upset with me. I'm not going to tell you that you're wrong or to "get over it." You're upset and you have every right to express that.

The forty-two are upset that Barringer's remarks were allowed to go up without a response from me on what she expressed in her e-mail. That's a logical outcome to expect. And certainly, when The Nation prints letters, they allow the writer of the piece the letters are aimed at to respond to the remarks. Sometimes that leads to a very informative exchange (sometimes it leads to nonsense, which intended to be humorous or not, comes off insulting such as 'kiss your ouchies' or whatever appeared last month).

I'm not aware of The Progressive, In These Times or Ms. doing that. Either approach is valid.

I'd stated from the start of this site, however, if anyone wanted to weigh in their remarks would be posted, it would be their space and I wouldn't comment on it. The reason for that being that I've stated my opinion in my critique, they were now stating their opinion.

Lloyd feels that by not responding "you blew it." And Lloyd's entitled to that opinion and he may be right and I may be wrong.

Yazz felt "even for you, that was taking 'in fairness' to ridiculous levels' by not responding." Yazz may be right.

Of the forty-two, the question that kept coming through was why didn't I respond.

First, for the record, I did respond. And apologies to Barringer for that. When her e-mail was recieved, I offered it in the interview with Beth. Barringer came off (to me) as sincere in her remarks. She's not the first to write (nor is her e-mail the one I've most enjoyed -- that honor goes to the Times reporter who wrote in January -- the one noted in this space that I'd love to respond to but I don't want to risk conflicts of interests emerging from exchanging e-mails with reporters whose work is evaluated here).

No one's ever wanted to go on the record. I disagreed with Barringer but I saw where she was coming from. The e-mail struck me as sincere and to attempt to give it an airing, I noted it at the top of the e-mail with Beth. (While trying to do so in such a way that she wasn't outed as the writer of it.) So there was a response, a pre-emptive one that wasn't intended to be such.

We're going to refer to her as FB because I'm not sure of the spelling and don't want to have to recheck the spelling each time before I post this.

So FB wrote an e-mail. She brought up specifics concerns (as opposed to the majority of Times reporters who e-mail -- though others have raised specific concerns and those concerns have been noted here in the past). I didn't agree with her opinion. But I attempted to present both sides in the interview with Beth because I do see where FB is coming from (and I could be wrong and often am). Ideally, FB's comments would have gone up by themselves with no interceding remarks on my part.

Again, no one ever wants to go public. Or didn't until FB. So to make sure that something I disagreed with but could understand why she felt that way was addressed, I attempted to summarize her view. And I offered my view because I disagreed and even I have my "in fairness" limits. (Or I think I do, Yazz.)

Dallas e-mailed her to advise her of the entry (as requested by me). She e-mailed Dallas back giving her permission to be quoted. Her remarks went up, with her name on them, as would any reporter from the Times who gave permission. (They were also added, in full, to the original post at this site. They weren't added to the copy post at the relay site but I'm not sure we were up then. However, her remarks posted here were carried over to the mirror site.) (I'll check this weekend for the entry at the mirror site and if it's up there, her remarks will be added to that post as well.)

But I'm not interested, personally, in debating opinion. That's why we don't cover the op-ed pages. (Or I don't.) (Members can if they want.) There are two editorials we've focused on at this site: the slapdown of NOW for endorsing during the primary and the slapdown of Gerry Adams. In both cases, we didn't do a point by point. With NOW, I think it was sexist. No other organization or group was criticized for their endorsement. The criticism may have come from wanting NOW to be "taken seriously." If that were the case, it was a desire to be helpful possibly but it was still sexist because NOW's statements shouldn't require "rescuing." (Nor did I have a problem with NOW's endorsement and I'd already chosen a candidate other than the one NOW endorsed.) With Adams, it's mentioned when we comment on Ireland because members think it goes to a larger problem with the reporting on Northern Ireland in the paper.

But there's never been a detailed response on either nor do I have the desire to.

When the idiot (and if he's offended by that, too bad -- when you come to me with your problems with Rebecca, you're acting like a child and if you're an adult that makes you an idiot in my opinion) from the centrist organization "wrote Rebecca" (as she's noted and I've noted -- that e-mail was addressed to me, he didn't even have the guts to speak to her directly), he was full of suggestions of how she should write and how she should debate his policy issues. (As Rebecca noted, one policy -- the one she focused on, a presidential report -- is available online but you're not allowed to quote from it without the org's permission. I enjoyed Rebecca's hilarious comparison of that to the RIAA clamping down on Napster.)

Rebecca doesn't have to debate a policy with anyone. And if she finds the policy inane, she doesn't have to waste her time going over it. If I disagree with an opinion, I'm not going to waste my time debating it -- if it appears on the op-ed pages or in the editorial.

So that's why I choose to ignore the editorials and the op-eds here. Braver people who can put up with that sort of thing (Bob Somerby to cite only one) are welcome to it. If we comment on the mainstream here, it's the reporting (and how "opinion" makes it into the reporting or any other critique of that kind). With regards to Elisabeth Bumiller, I broke that policy once, without realizing it. When it was noticed months later, I checked and saw that it was a "White House Letter" and noted that I'd made a mistake and offered my apologies at this site.

The White House Letter is an op-ed. She can write whatever she wants in those and I could care less. I'm not interested in critiquing an op-ed. Nor should I be noting them here because if we do note an column, besides it being from a writer not working for the Times, it's from someone on the left and Bumiller is not of the left. Her White House Letters should never be critiqued here by me because they are op-eds. (We can highlight Somerby on them and we do. He's got the drive and energy to wade through those things -- op-eds, not just Bumiller -- it gives me a headache.)

There's also the fact that after the election, and this has been noted in an early entry at this site, a group of friends and I went over what was effective and what wasn't. If we were sharing op-eds via e-mail or mail (and I did) we went back to find out which people made a difference.
No offense to the Times, but no one there made a difference as a writer. Molly Ivins persuaded people with her humor. Some saw Dowd as "confusing" and some saw Krugman as too "wonkish" while they weren't sure why Herbert was focusing on something. (I've never in my life sent out -- by e-mail or regular mail -- a column by Thomas Friedman or any other neoliberal.) I enjoy Dowd, Krugman and Herbert (and when Safire was stepping down, there was a thing on what each offered to the paper and why Safire's departure, my opinion, didn't mean that his replacement had to be a white, conservative male -- obviously the Times felt differently). (We also built an entry around the nonsense, my opinion, of three Times' columnists on Iraq.)

We could go into models and theories at this site. I hold several degrees and we could be as wonky as the next person. But that didn't work when my friends and I looked at the post-election feedback. I enjoy Dowd's perspective (even when I disagree) and I'm certainly not the only person who bought BushWorld since it was a best seller. But the Times wasn't reaching the average person with their op-eds. (Their editorials were more succesful from the feedback we received.) Partly that's due to the fact that, in their own way, all three are addressing issues that aren't always noted elsewhere. Dowd's doing a pop-culture blend and your enjoyment (or nonenjoyment) will depend on how closely you've followed events.
Molly Ivins, on the other hand, keeps it basic and walks you through. Ellen Goodman was another one rated very highly in feedback.

The week The Common Ills began was the week that we'd crunched all the results from our poll and there was never a chance that we'd be focusing on op-eds from the Times here as a result.
(Again, members can highlight an op-ed. That means writing something about it. That doesn't mean e-mailing "link to this.")

(Of the male newspaper columnists that were e-mailed, Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune was the only one that was rated as having any impact. Chapman is not of the left. He has many important points to make but the reason he's never highlighted here is because we are a resource/review for the left.)

So the above provides where I'm coming from on the issue. (It does not say that I'm right.)
And this has been covered in various entries here.

If tomorrow Elisabeth Bumiller asks to be quoted here, her entry would go up. She might say "Your humor is mean, nasty and lowers the level of discourse." She might be right. I don't know that I need to haul out "Don't knock the mock." It's up here in various entries. I would assume that members are familiar with that slogan. Her opinion that the humor is not valid is her opinion and she's been critiqued here so why shouldn't she be able to weigh in?

I obviously wouldn't agree with her but isn't that obvious from this site? Does it really require a response from me?

And what if I'm wrong. I firmly belive in "don't knock the mock" (and the data on the op-ed results backs that up) but I could be wrong. Is it wrong to let her have her say without commenting?

As far as I know, FB didn't distort any comments here. (She noted she was confused by some.)
I didn't check that (I didn't reread the entry -- that was a mistake and one I won't make again).
If she'd gotten something that had been said here wrong (a quote, not an interpretation), that might require some comment on my part. (It sounded like what was up here and no one noted a problem with it, so I'm sure she got it right. But it was a mistake on my part not to have checked.)

Otherwise, my opinion, let her have her say. I've had mine, she's entitled to her's.

And while I will think about what she's written (asI do with regard to everyone who e-mails from the Times), I'm not going to stop doing something I believe in because FB or someone else disagrees.

Unfortunately for FB, I didn't think she was going to agree to go public. Again, no one e-mailing from the Times ever wants to. (And some have valid reasons for that.) But I saw the e-mail as her opinion and felt it should be out here in some form so I attempted to present it and then presented my own. If I'd known she'd say "quote me," I wouldn't have done that. So (and Yazz will probably e-mail that he was choking on "in fairness" throughout this post -- and he's got a right to that opinion) I will say to FB that I'm sorry that I did offer my opinion ahead of time.

Had an e-mail come back (as soon as someone writes, the automated reply goes out and the policy for being quoted is in that e-mail; all a person has to do is write back, "Quote me on this" or "quote me in full" or "note me as"), I wouldn't have offered my opinion in the interview with Beth.

Obviously, I disagree with FB's take on it. But even had I not offered an opinion ahead of time, I would expect it to be obvious by what's up here day after day. I don't see the point in responding, "When FB says ____, she's obviously unaware of . . . ."

The above shouldn't make anyone feel that there reactions are wrong. The forty-two have an opinion and it's valid. But it's not keeping with anything I've noted here before. In fact, it's against the policies we've gone over here repeatedly. Due to their reactions, I am rethinking it and I will continue to give their opinions thought. They may be right and I may be wrong.

Sherry was one of the forty-two and she added at the end that she hoped she hadn't made me mad. She didn't. She expressed her opinion and there's nothing wrong with that. I appreciate Sherry's e-mail along with the other forty-one who felt as she did. It comes down to an opinion and I could be wrong. I will give the matter more thought. (Which doesn't mean expect a conclusion tomorrow. I don't comment on Rebecca's personal revelations about me -- on whether they're the way I see it or not -- at her site -- so please stop e-mailing on that, she's offering her opinion of personal experiences we've shared or parties we've gone to in the past and her take is as valid as mine if I agree or disagree; however, she is correct that I do not make a snap judgement. I circle around a topic -- note the poor writing in any entry by me -- and I will ask input from friends. I'll think and think and after awhile, I'll have some sort of decision -- whether it's right or wrong.)

If the forty-two worry their concerns may not be given proper attention, I would remind everyone that when The Common Ills started, in terms of the Times, the plan was to note articles in the main section without any comment from me. Gina and Yazz led the fight for opinions and commentary from me. Obviously, they successfully made their case. I don't know what I'll decide but I will weigh the comments and continue to think about them.

Moving on. A number of you wanted a response from the panel that reviewed the e-mail from FB and the original entry at this site (they also reviewed the original article which Shirley scanned and sent out -- if you're interested in the article -- and a number of you are, contact Shirley who's e-mail address is on your ballots -- remember votes need to be coming in).

For the panel to respond, they would have to a) want to and b) have time to compose a response. It's been noted to each of the five that the community wants a panel response. They will follow up on that or not. (If they do follow up, it will be posted here.)

If FB had e-mailed on Tuesday "quote me," there would have been no panel. Her remarks would have gone up that day. The reason I pulled the panel together was because to me it was opinion versus opinion and I didn't want to attempt to present FB's opinion (called X in the interview with Beth) without being sure that I wasn't seeing something that only I saw. As for why those five (thirty e-mails), Elaine, being a longterm friend (pre-college), is someone I could pick up the phone and call. Due to Shirley and Eli serving on other panels, I had their phone numbers. Kat and I often speak by phone so she was someone that could be quickly reached. Dallas is a community member who works his butt off (tomorrow morning, in an e-mail, I will have links to main stories from the Times that Dallas would have copied and pasted as he went through the Times and never once saying, "Hey, highlight this," but just because he knows I work from the print edition and does that to help out; he also, as noted before, is the one hunting down the links for The Third Estate Sunday Review -- for a roundtable or anything else. He's a very active member and most members know that from his entries we've posted but he also does a great deal that never gets noted).

When the "red state" v. "blue state" nonsense started up, he was one of the people saying it needed to be addressed. He goes far back in the community and does a great deal. Billie is another but she's busy (and Folding Star's being busy with finals and jury duty to answer the question from Marcia and Brandon as to why Folding Star wasn't asked to be on that panel).

FB had written, there was no indication that she would want to be quoted. I wanted to be sure she would be heard and I had sworn to Beth that our long post-poned interview would be done Tuesday night. The interview seemed a way to present FB's remarks as well as Z who wrote an e-mail that I let Beth summarize in the interview.

(Beth quoted a phrase from the e-mail. I didn't realize that until the next day -- I was very tired, and am tired now. If I'd caught it, I wouldn't have allowed the phrase to go up. But I doubt it's a phrase that Z repeats at the office. If that's not the case, my apologies to Z.)

The last question that came up most frequently (I'm working from Ava's notes of the discussion Third Estate Sunday Review and I had on the e-mails -- thank you, Ava) was does someone from the Times have the right to go up immediately?

No, they don't. That's a very good point. On the 'Okrent wasn't censured' (which you can believe or not, I personally believe Randy Cohen was correct), we waited on that because there were other things going on. (I belive it was three days after the fact that it was posted -- I could be wrong.) FB was dealt with because the interview with Beth seemed the perfect place to deal with it and also to knock out Z's problem (which was I critical and hadn't I been offered Love in the Green Zone gossip?).

Had the interview not been planned, it would have waited. But (no gasps of surprise here), I can write in circles. (There was a joke about that, by me, that Beth edited out. I really liked that joke.) With Beth steering the interview, if I was unclear, she could say, "Wait, you lost me."

But, for instance, dealing with this entry now (besides meaing very little sleep for me tonight or that I monopolized Ava, Jim, Jess, Ty and Dona's time) results in us not being able to note Kevin's praise of something in Mother Jones (which we'll note tomorrow, I'm sorry Kevin).

There's no reason that the Times gets to jump ahead or cut in line. If it comes in and they say "quote me," short of a major event happening (which could be news or something that the community already had planned) it would wait. I certainly wouldn't look at the clock and say, "Fine, I'll just get two and half hours of sleep tonight" for a Times reporter who wants to have their say.

FB offered an opinion that I disagreed with but that I did see as valid. There was no indication that there would be any quoting from it and Beth's interview was scheduled. Since FB was being addressed, it seemed only fair to note Z as well since Z's e-mail came in the same day.

That deals with the questions. (If you had a question that wasn't answered, please e-mail me because indvidual questions that popped up in small numbers weren't dealt with. The intent is to respond to those this weekend but e-mail me a reminder because I might forget.)

Now for the opinion of the community members who wrote in (all 602, 603, 0r 604 of you).

Jim and Ty composed this summary (which all six of us agreed represented the e-mails):

The Times's idea of "balance" is not The Common Ills idea of balance. The Common Ills does not see, for instance, The Brookings Institute as a left organization. It may be left-leaning, but it is not a left organization in the opinion of the members of this community. The Times, as noted many times here, lives and dies by its official sources. If this community agreed with the Times outlook on that, the issue would not pop up repeatedly. But it does pop up repeatedly. When the protests took place at the inauguration, the Times saw fit to note a topless woman and remain silent about other protesters and other events. Felicity Barringer's opinions are in keeping with the Times, they are not in keeping with this community.

Having decided to spotlight three individuals as "cracks" in a landscape, she never offers the landscape. The landscape of environmentalists is a wide landscape and Felicity Barringer and the Times would have to move beyond their usual "think tanks" and recognize other voices.
Giving time to the opinions of three in a landscape of millions is not balanced out with a couple of sentences of how others disagree. Let's hear from the others. Let's hear from Greenpeace, for instance.

A Rudith Miller link was wanted by the members because this goes to what makes the front page and what doesn't. What makes the front page is a 'shift' in thinking. Buried in the story you find doubts. It's a Rudith Miller piece in the opinion of the community. "Slam, slam freely and do so at the top" to paraphrase Rudith.

There was only one e-mail that attacked Felicity Barringer personally. All other e-mails noted that she shared her opinion when she didn't have to. They heard her opinion. They disagreed. But they appreciated that she shared. (344 made a point to use the term "thank" in some form as in they were thankful, they thanked her . . .)

Criticism of her opinion (not of her) revolved around the fact that the Times has their standards and are apparently happy with them, but those are not the standards of this community. Three people, one of whom shouldn't have been quoted in the opinion of this community, are not to be seen as a groundswell or an indication of a coming consensus. But that's how the article reads.
It was also noted that Felicity Barringer did not deal with the issue of why the one person who is not seen as an "environmentalist" by this community was noted to begin with.

The second criticism was that Felicity Barringer quoted a section of a long article. She did not quote the article in full. Having responded three weeks after the entry was posted, the article is no longer freely available. People have tossed out their print copies and they can not access the article online for free. The failure to address the specific criticism and to instead want to debate the merits of "balance" in an article that most members will not have access to wasn't seen as fair.

Except for the one member who personally attacked Felicity Barringer, everyone saw her as believing in what she said. No one questioned her sincerity. Her beliefs and statements were thought to be in keeping with the Times. While 344 members made a point to say that they appreciated her input and thanked her for sharing it, the membership felt that the Times' standards of "balance" are the Times' standards. The Common Ills is not a mainstream site. It does not attempt to follow up a link to Barbara Boxer with one to Trent Lott or even Joe Lieberman.

Environmentalism being a cause of the left, the community feels that they know better than Felicity Barringer or the New York Times what qualifies for voices from the environmental movement.

73 members noted that Felicity Barringer, working within the imposed framework of the Times, provided "balance" further down in the story. The 73 noted that not all reporters for the Times do that. But again, they do not see it as balance.

Sheila noted that she has no idea of Felicity Barringer's personal politics and we note that because this is the sort of thing that the Times is supposed to strive in their reporting. Within the framework of the Times, Felicity Barringer was successful.

However, this community does not believe that "cracks" make a front page story or that you lead with that and offer middle of the road voices further down. The fact that the Times does not offer a legitmate debate from the left came up repeatedly in e-mails. A Barbara Lee does not pop up reguarly in the Times (though the membership says if they see one more photo of Kay Baily Hutchinson, Republican senator from Texas, in the paper they may throw up).

Cynthia McKinney was attacked by the Times, many members noted. And there was no fair hearing on that issue (though members did recommend Greg Palast's The Best Democracy Money Can Buy for a discussion on that issue). It was felt that a left member of Congress had the best chance of being mentioned or having a photo run in the Times if they were being attacked. It was noted that the Black Caucus may as well not exist in the Times' eyes judging by the coverage.

These are probably not opinions Felicity Barringer or the Times would share. But these are opinions that go to the bedrock of this community. It's a difference of opinion. Felicity Barringer
speaks for the Times' viewpoint* and members were glad she chose to share. They do not, however, agree with her that her opinion is correct.

* FB was writing as FB, I need to note that. She was not speaking for the Times. Members can have the opinion that she was and that's fine. But for the record, due to the guidelines at the paper, it needs to be noted that FB was speaking for FB and not for the New York Times. In her remarks, she repeatedly used the first person. I'm not saying to the community, 'You are wrong!" I am saying that, for the record, it needs to be noted that FB's remarks were FB's remarks. She's not empowered to speak for the Times and she did not attempt to speak for the Times.

I appreciate that members weighed in on this topic and I think everyone had a unique way of making a point. Every e-mail was read. I'm playing "gatekeeper" here and not doing an entry containing quotes from all 602 (or 603 or 604) e-mails because I don't have the time and I honestly don't feel comfortable with the fact that we haven't been able to have a community members post on an issue like Iraq but would take the time for a rebuttal to someone over their opinion.

With the exception of the one member that Ty and Jim noted in their summary above, everyone appreciated that FB shared her take on it. I'll note that I'm glad she did as well.

I'll also note, to the ones who felt an immediate response should have gone up and since it didn't a post should be posted on Thursday, this was posted. But remember, as members know from past entries noting community concerns, not everyone is able to do a twenty-four turn around on an issue. Some members do not have daily access to computers. Some members want to mull things over.

With regards to FB's comments, I'll play gatekeeper and say that this is the end of it unless a member has a way to tie into something else (a larger picture/view of the Times). I had my say, she had her say and the community as a whole had their say. (If the panel chooses to compose a statement, it will go up.)

I'll continue to think about the sentiments of the forty-two who feel that a response that goes up requires a response on my part. I will note, however, that if a member's opinions go up in an entry, I don't make a point to say, "They are right!" or "They are wrong!" FB shared her opinion. Hopefully, it made us think. It appears to have done that and the comments in the e-mails appear to demonstrate that we are all on another page than FB. The fact that everyone who e-mailed was in agreement on that would appear to indicate that there may not be a need for a rebuttal. (I could be wrong and I'll continue to think about it.)

But the forty-two were especially concerned about how it would play out to non-members who visited the site and didn't know the site. That's a good concern; however, the e-mails from the visitors that I have complained about indicate (to me) that even if a rebuttal had been posted, they wouldn't ahve gotten it. That's the right wingers who love to complain in e-mails and that's the middle of the roaders (the "there's nothing lovelier than a Blue Dog Democrat" in sping while their common sense spills out of their heads, apparently -- no those types have not gone away).

We're a community. If we start worrying about how something will play out to outsiders, we're doomed. If I feel myself hedging on something or about to, I end up going firmly left (or my idea of it) here. (We are not "More left than thou" -- there are many sites, organziations, et al that are lefter and more power to them and hopefully we can learn a great deal from them.)

But with Dexter Filkins, for instance, the infamous article by him, it would have been very easy to have looked at the first e-mails that came in and thought, "Woah, I better shut up!" Or, "Blow my credibility? Oh my God! They're right!"

I firmly believe that Dexter Filkins' much praised, much awarded report will not stand up to history or scrutiny. It was apparently controversial to some to say that when I originally did. I didn't temper my remarks (though I've noted that I could, as always, be wrong). The community members who were questioning of the opinion then aren't now. But we still get visitors who want to trumpet what award Filkins won or that he's "there" or some other hollow justification for what, in my opinion, was a one sided article that failed to inform readers of anything other than the 'kills' and other video game elements.

People like Amy Goodman and Dahr Jamail (to cite but two) have given a much more emcompassing view than Filkins that didn't overlook humanity to play 'kill cheerleader.' People (males) were not allowed to leave the city, they were forced back in (of all ages). It was a turkey shoot in a town and Filkins found much to rave about while not informing readers of basic details.

As noted elsewhere, a reporter has alleged that Filkins gets his pieces cleared by the military prior to print (Filkins denies that allegation). That might, if true, explain the long delay in his one-day, one-sided reporting taking so long to appear in print. Or maybe he's just been embedded so long that it doesn't really matter to him that innocents died. I don't know.

I do know that it wasn't a video game and it wasn't anything that I saw as worthy of applause.
A reporter's supposed to provide a perspective. Filkins, my opinion, provided a view from over a soldier's shoulder. I wouldn't even call it "and you are there" reporting.

Possibly he suffers from the problems natural to war reporting (as noted by Chris Hedges).
Who knows? And does it really matter? I don't think it does. I think we saw a massacre, or would have with sound reporting. Instead he picks up his awards and plaudits and it would be really easy to say nothing for fear of what someone would think.

I haven't done that and I won't. And while I understand the feelings of the forty-two on that issue, and certainly have those thoughts from time to time while I'm badly composing yet another entry, if we start censoring ourselves because others might think something or take the time to refute someone's opinion (which I'm glad FB shared), we're responding and not being pro-active.

I feel like I'm going in circles here (which probably means I started going in circles half way into this), so I'll wind down here. But I don't believe this community exists to worry what someone else will think if they happen upon something. We aren't running for office. We're not taking ads. We're not attempting to get exposure from anyone. We're independent for a reason and that's so we can speak our truth. Our voice (not mine) is the strongest thing we have.

And while I can understand concerns as to how our voice may or may not appear to outsiders, we don't exist to sway the swing voter or any other similar tactic. We're a resource/review for the left. That's our purpose. We come together as a community to share and increase our knowledge of what's out there on the left. If the Times (or any other mainstream organ) did that, as stated before, we'd be a glorified Tiger Beat saying things like "Doesn't Katrina vanden Heuvel and/or Christian Parenti have great hair?"

But voices from the left haven't been highlighted by the mainstream. Look at the roundtable the Times did in their book review and note that you had a left-leaning centerist, a right-wing leaning person (New Republican) and Katrina vanden Heuvel bringing up the left. Think about how much more life might have been in the roundtable if Katrina vanden Heuvel had been joined by Gloria Steinem or someone at Ms., by Margaret Kimberely or someone at The Black Commentator, by Salim Muwakkil or anyone at In These Times, by Matthew Rothschild or anyone at The Progressive, by someone from Left Turn or Clamor.

Instead we heard one (New Republican) hold the Cokie Roberts gasbag line and another talk electoral politics and those issues. Katrina vanden Heuvel was the voice of social justice. (And thank God she was a part of the roundtable or we would have had two white males debating what the center and the slightly left of center should do).

CJR Daily appears to be getting better in their magazine reports (from what I've been e-mailed) and that's great. Hopefully that will open the range for others. But the left didn't disappear on Sept. 12, 2001. When a member e-mails excited that a highlight here (by a member or by me) has turned them on to Laura Flanders or someone else, that's what our purpose is.

I'm going to call this a rough draft and post it. I'll spell check it sometime this weekend (hopefully tomorrow evening) and I'll provide links. Amy Goodman (as everyone knows) hosts Democracy Now! and Bob Somerby is the voice of The Daily Howler. Everyone else mentioned should be easy to locate via the permalinks on the left (always on the left). But I'm looking at the clock and I'll be up in one and a half hours. So this rough draft will have to stand for now. In the words of Kat (Kat's Korner, she's started her own site and we have a link to it on the left) it is what it is.

(Rebecca runs Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Folding Star runs A Winding Road. I don't think I mentioned Betty but she does Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man and and she e-mailed that she'll be posting tomorrow -- her oldest child hurt himself today while climbing a tree and she'd asked me to mention that to the community "so they won't think, good Lord is she slacking off!") (I've bit the bullet and provided some, but not all links. I didn't focus on typos. I'm sure there are many. I'll catch them tomorrow evening and I'll do the rest of the links. The time stamp on this entry is when it was started. I flipped to another screen and if I was creating one right now, the time stamp would be 2:23 am. I'm going to go grab that one hour of sleep.)

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