Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Questions from the e-mails

There are a number of e-mails with questions and I'll try to note them below. If someone is quoted, they've given permission. If others asked the same question but didn't give permission to be quoted, they may or may not be noted.

Referring to Tuesday's morning post, Bryan asks what is the link to the story from The Third Estate Sunday Review? Bryan's referring to this:

But when the paper pushes this as "big news," it does have the effect of reminding many Americans of why they don't trust Miller and, honestly, don't like her. The Third Estate Sunday Review had a suggestion awhile back (I'll provide the link later tonight, I'm rushing, sorry) that if the Times truly wanted to help Miller avoid jail time, the answer was simple: assign some reporters to the Plame story and break the news on who leaked her name to the press.

Tuesday evening, I was feeling very sick and honestly forgot about it. So thanks for reminding me, Bryan. I called Jim and he couldn't remember where it was at The Third Estate Sunday Review so I searched (and searched).

It was The Third Estate Sunday Review. From Feb. 20th, "The Big News of the Week: According to TNYT it was Judy Miller:"

To what won't this paper stoop to protect their little Judy Miller?
(Someone should have chosen a more flattering picture for the article -- Miller's chins are more frightening from the side and rolling over her turtleneck sweater.)
Does the paper feel any sense of responsibility?
The answer has been obvious and we suggested it some time ago. You put your reporters on the story of who outed Valerie Plame (not on writing mash notes to Judy) and let them find out who outed Plame. You print that story and Miller doesn't have to go to jail.We noted two weeks ago that this wasn't a good time for The Times to be pressing this issue in a court of law. We aren't at all surprised with the judges' verdict. Which isn't to say that we support it. It is to say that the press (including The Times) has done a s**t-poor job for some time now so expecting America to rise to the defense of the press is expecting a bit much. And expecting a favorable judicial climate when the Bully Boy has declared war on the press for four years now (while The Times has largely remained silent) indicates the people behind the paper left the reality based community on the last train to Clarksville sometime ago.

I'll try to put the link in the post from Tuesday within the next twenty-four hours.

My response to Elizabeth's questions appear to have confused at least two members.

I'll try to clarify.

The New York Times takes (or used to take) great lengths to avoid being self-referential. To front line the Supreme Court not taking a case involving Miller at a time when other cases weren't taken (many cases are granted cert each Court session) was a little too "Look at us!" for my personal taste. Judith Miller is not the most pressing issue in America and it didn't belong on the front page. (An editorial appeared on it the same day. Though I wouldn't have critiqued the editorial, if I'd seen it when doing the morning post on this, I would've noted it.)

At a time when they refuse to throw the weight of the paper behind most issues, it's rather sad that the three issues that've been willing to flood the zone on in the last eight months were:

1) the tsunami
2) Judith Miller
3) the death pagent on the Pope

Only the first was worthy of flood the zone coverage.

The Times wants to remain silent on Miller's reporting. The mea culpa never named her. They've refused to go back and examine her reporting to correct the public record. But on the issue of "Judy didn't write about Valerie Plame!" they want to beat their chests and wear the hair shirts. Repeatedly.

The the Court refused to grant cert on a case, any case, is rarely front page news. What we saw was the Times use their name, space and image (such as it is) to attempt to turn this into a major story with the storyline being (yet again) "Poor Judy."

If Miller & the front page don't mix (and they don't) that has a lot to do with the reporting. That's Miller's own reporting which has yet to be corrected and the paper's own refusal to seriously address the outing of Plame.

It's all rather strange when you realize that the retaliation (the outing of Plame) comes as a result of an op-ed Joseph Wilson penned for . . . the Times. But they've not been interested in the story. David Corn owned the story early on (Corn is, of course, with The Nation). That was partly due (as I'm sure he'd state himself -- and I believe he already has) to the fact that mainstream press wasn't interested. They shrugged their shoulders. Corn hunted down (and continues to) developments that the mainstream isn't interested in. When did the Times become interested? When Judy Miller was expected to name her source.

Stories since then have treated Plame as a sidebar and made Miller the focus (Matt Cooper is not a co-focus, he comes off as an afterthought).

Poynter's Romenesko has a letter ("Why not name Libby?" 6/28/2005 1:05:20 PM)

From SUSAN STABLEY, reporter, South Florida Business Journal:
I don't understand why, in all the recent articles about Miller-Cooper-Novak and the Plame case, no one states the name of the leaker. The man who revealed the identity of an undercover CIA agent was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, at least, according to Cooper.
Cooper was the speaker at the recent SPJ awards in South Florida. He told a room full of reporters that he revealed his source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- after Libby released him from his obligation to protect his identity. The Washington Post reported the identity of Cooper's source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- in August 2004. Cooper told us at the SPJ event that his current legal crisis had to do with a follow-up subpoena from investigators who were fishing for all his notes.
[. . .]

Shouldn't that be in the Times' coverage?

Apparently not because it's not part of "poor Judy." It doesn't portray her as brave.

Is she being brave? Matthew Rothschild thinks she is.

Others think she's being stupid to risk a ruling at a time when the court system isn't looking favorably on journalism. Still others think she has no right to not name her "source."

Rothschild's argument is that Miller, as a journalist, must be able to protect her source on this.
Those who don't think she has a right to protect her source argue that someone committing a crime and one that you didn't even write about isn't a "source." The press isn't a priest (though some might see themselves as such). We've covered that here before.

Let's use Scoots Libby. Let's say that Scoots robs a bank and tells Miller about it. She writes a story on it. A month or two later, in conversation, Scoots says he's burned down a building the week prior. Miller doesn't write on that.

Because Scoots was a source on one story, Scoots now has blanket immunity? Miller's not a priest. You can't go to her and confess crimes and get absolution. If she's not writing about it,
people disagree over whether or not a source on a previous story can be protected in another story when the source has broken the law.

We've made the point here repeatedly that in writing that column Novak didn't commit a crime. And he didn't. The law doesn't cover him. We've never used the word "treason" to describe Novak's actions. In addition, Ty's argued, rightly, that when we use terms like "treason" (punishable by death) on the outing of a CIA agent, we're making it that much more difficult for a CIA agent to ever be outed and that's not really a position that the left traditionally holds.

We've stated here that Novak needs to address the issue. (And compared him to Agnes in Moliere's The School for Wives.) But we've not bought the argument that "once a source, always a source" is one to make in the current legal climate. If the Times had flooded the zone, then or now, on Valerie Plame, Miller wouldn't be facing her current jail time. They want to turn into a First Amendment case and not everyone's buying it as such. (Besides Rothschild, Rick MacArthur of Harper's does see it as such. Links to both's opinions have been provided at this site.)

It's surprising that the Times, of all papers, hasn't take up the cause of a CIA agent. But they haven't take up Plame's cause, they've made it all about poor Judy. This at a time when most people don't feel a great deal of sympathy to her, at a time when the courts aren't looking favorably on established journalistic rights and at a time when there is a huge split amongst journalists as to whether or not Miller's refusal to name who whispered the name to her qualifies as a First Amendment issue.

At a time when the paper's not too concerned with the death of journalists in Iraq, it's rather embarrassing that they throw out their own standards (to avoid being self-referential) and pretend that Judith Miller's legal problems are front page news.

1) Judy Miller is not Michael Jackson. She's not that widely known.
2) Those who do know the byline are split on her reporting.
3) She's facing jail time for an issue that the Times refuses to address.
4) Her case was denied cert which was hardly that surprising and hardly worthy of the front page.

Those were the points I attempted to make. Hope that clears it up.

There's also the issue of one of Elizabeth's questions which was, if it's not news, why does it get attention outside the Times? She was referring to Democracy Now! and they were debating the issues involved (or not involved) in the case. The Times hasn't done that (an probably won't -- you can't push Miller's side and also offer up the nagging doubts). I'd said I'd think about it in terms of it appearing here yesterday and I did think about it.

We critique the main section. Miller wasn't a front page story this week but she was turned into one. Insider baseball is a term that comes to mind. Since we critique the paper, I think it was correct to note it here. (I'll leave it to others to determine whether it was effectively addressed here.)

Four members (none said "quote me" and none are people such as Wally who's offered that any comment, any time can be quoted unless noted otherwise in the e-mail in question) wondered about the disclosure issue re: this afternoon's entry.

I don't note Perot here. I'm not a fan of the man or the family. A friend, who briefly was involved with H. Ross Jr., phoned today about that post after it went up. She cautioned that I might have stated here at some point (because I've stated it to friends) that Dems could use a little of the graphs and charts to make points that they too often assume everyone grasps. But part of the "do I want to disclose" was to do with her brief relationship with that family. I don't care for them and that says about all that needs to be said there.

Other disclosure issues go to the poll that Somerby cited. Bob Somerby rightly notes that it's the only statistical evidence there is. The sample size is too small for me to see it as representative of the nation. That's based on poli sci courses and covered here when noting polls by the Times.

And there were seven paragraphs after the above one that are now being deleted. I may or may not have worked on that polling. I'm getting two different answers from two different people. So the thing to do is disqualify myself from commenting. (Note, I did do some work for a paper, not the New York Times, for the 1992 election. In both cases, I was "paid" technically in that checks were cut. However, I never cashed any checks because both instances were favors for friends.)

And for those wondering "Where are the evening entries!" . . . You're right to wonder. I thought the matter was decided when one friend returned my phone call and was pulling together comments/opinions on the polling cited by Somerby. Then I got the second call. At which point, I went out to try to figure out what to do.

Since I'm not able to say one way or another, I'll just disqualify myself from comments on that poll.

And post this post.

Sorry for the delays.

And just remembered that Lynda e-mailed to say how much she enjoyed the BuzzFlash interview with Jonathan Adelstein which I'd promised to quote from tonight.

First let's note the intro because BuzzFlash is calling for some action:

Jonathan S. Adelstein, one of two pro-consumer Federal Communications Commissioners (the other is Michael Copps), spoke with BuzzFlash on June 13th, the day the Supreme Court okayed Congress' override of the Michael Powell move to further deregulate big media [US high court declines media ownership challenges (Reuters)]. Adelstein and Copps are heroically trying to hold off the Karl Rove effort to more fully control the media in Stalinesque fashion, turning the entire media, including PBS and NPR, into FOX News clones. Nothing is more important to the GOP radical zealots than controlling the media message. They can only govern by suppressing the truth and replacing it with falsehoods. They rule by deception. If the media turned against them, they would be plea bargaining for shorter prison time.
So, Adelstein and Copps need your help. Contact information for the FCC is here: You need to let them know how you feel about pending FCC regulations. Nothing is more important than who controls the messaging in America. The Republicans know this -- and they rule by smoke and mirrors as a result. Don't let them get away with further big corporate GOP media control. If it gets any worse, you might as well read issues of Pravda from the '50s.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:

BuzzFlash: In some of the material handed out by "Free Press," the point was made that these are public airwaves that the FCC regulates. And yet if we take a station like ABC or CBS, the public is really not getting any significant money in return. Those stations are for-profit. This is a free enterprise society. In other words, they're public airwaves, but they're given to private parties. Is there any way for the public to get remuneration for the use of public airwaves?
Jonathan S. Adelstein: Well, the current law is that all broadcast frequencies are given out for free. It would take an act of Congress to require any return to the public in terms of revenues. But right now, the compact that's always existed has been that in exchange for free use of the public airwaves, the broadcasters would serve the public interest, would provide things that were responsive to the concerns of the communities that they serve. As we've gotten away from those public interest requirements -- and the FCC has increasingly watered them down to the point where they’re almost nonexistent -- the public gets the worst of both worlds. They don't get anything in return for the use of the airwaves in terms of being compensated or in terms of getting the kind of public interest programming that would justify such a giveaway.
BuzzFlash: Under the Reagan Administration, the requirements of the fairness doctrine were removed, so now we have right-wing media owners editorializing for the Republican Party and censoring programs that they think might be harmful to the current administration. There's no fairness there.
Jonathan S. Adelstein: That's why it's so important that we not loosen the media ownership rules. The last remaining bulwark against the domination of one viewpoint on the airwaves, be it from the left or the right, is that there be a diversity of viewpoints expressed, and that there are many different options for the public to draw from in terms of owners of the media outlets, then hopefully people can get the information they need to make up their own minds, rather than being disproportionately influenced by a handful of giants that might dominate the discourse in any given community.

A note on BuzzFlash's first question (first question above) because Eddie, Ryan and Lloyd have raised an issue in e-mails (and I'm trying to find out information on it, sorry for the delay). Adelstein correctly points out that the broadcast frequencies were given out for free. It is also true that PBS (among others) is being encouraged to sell those frequencies. This will generate a great deal of monies for the people selling the lic. but should that be their money? That's a point Eddie, Ryan and Lloyd are raising. (And it's a good point.)

But the other issue they're raising, and they're focusing on PBS, is something I'm confused on so if anyone has a resource or wants to take a crack at it, feel free. When the digital upgrade is done what does that mean? Does it mean that people will have to have cable to watch, to focus on PBS, the Public Broadcasting System? If so, that's not very public (as Eddie points out).

I'm not "up" on this issue at all and the three of them all wrote yesterday and today. I do know that changes are starting next month with regards to some TVs. If anyone has a resource or wants to weigh in, please note that. (And if you're a visitor, when you weigh in, you need to note in your e-mail what you are to be quoted on and what we should refer to you by.)

I am trying to track down answers on this and hopefully will have something by tomorrow.

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