Saturday, August 06, 2005

Other stories in this morning's New York Times and Democracy Now! special tonight broadcast on Pacifica Radio

"It's all good" Eduardo Porter tells us on the front page* of this morning's New York Times in "Employers In U.S. Add 207,000 Jobs to July Payroll." The "findings" were released Friday. The story is in this morning's paper. Porter has spoken to a few people who back up the claim. There's no indication that he's poured over the report. Considering that government announcements (on the economy, on recruiting figures) seem to be "elastic" at best (they're wide when announced and they snap to a smaller claim when they're examined closely) one wonders if this is reporting or a daily affirmation for the economy? For a reporter, Porter's a bit too "bullish" on early claims by the administration for my taste.

*This is a front page story of the main section. While it is continued inside the business pages, the story itself makes the front page. But let's hop over to the business section for a moment.

Stephen Labaton's "F.C.C. Eases High-Speed Access Rules" and Vikas Bajaj's
"New Rules on Net Service May Hurt Some Providers" inform readers of another victory for the the big players/corporations in the telecommunications industry and another blow to citizens. (As well as small business.) And on a "by the way note," let's note that Simon Rosenberg (remember he wanted to be the DNC chair but grassroots dialed in and voted him off) fought that battle on the side of . . . the telecommunications industry as friend of corporations. Well ain't it good to know, ain't it good to know, ain't it good to know, you've got a . . . different person as DNC chair. (Borrowing from Carole King's "You've Got A Friend" which is on the Tapesty album among others.)

Neil A. Lewis' "Guantanamo Detention Site Is Being Transformed, U.S. Says" caught Eli's attention and he highlights the following:

Amnesty International, a group that presses human rights concerns on behalf of prisoners throughout the world, sharply criticized the Pentagon's plans to transfer custody of many detainees to Afghanistan.
The group said on Friday that the detainees might face torture and other human rights abuses at the hands of the Afghan government.

That would be 110 Afghan detainees, held this entire time and never tried despite the Bully Boy's claim of a fair hearing. Considering recent reports in the Times of allegations that the hearings themselves would be show trials, rigged before they ever began, that may not be a bad thing. But the alternative (as Eli notes) doesn't seem all that much bettter.

Wally e-mails to note that Elisabeth Bumiller is "singing along with Gwen [Ifill] on 'It's Only a Summer Scandal.'" From her "C.I.A. Leak Case Recalls Texas Incident in '92 Race:"

These hot months here will be remembered as the summer of the leak, a time when the political class obsessed on a central question: did Karl Rove, President Bush's powerful adviser, commit a crime when he spoke about a C.I.A. officer with the columnist Robert D. Novak?

(Again, note, Bumiller personalizes her reporting. The first four words of her opening paragraph personalize the story -- this isn't a White House Letter, by the way -- and that may be a strong reason why the criticisms of her are so personal.) (On my end, I just think she's the supreme fluffer and squad leader of The Elite Fluff Patrol.)

As a columnist, Bumiller might be on stronger ground (personally, I'd have preferred her being added to the op-ed pages instead of John Tierney). Intentionally or not, she writes like a columnist or a feature writer. That's not a bad thing but it's also not what most readers expect in the hard news section. (Though maybe we should all give up on expecting hard news from the Times since it occurs rarely in each day's edition?)

"But the episode, part of the bad-boy lore of Mr. Rove, is a telling chapter in the 20-year friendship between the presidential adviser and the columnist." "Bad-boy lore" really isn't up to many people's idea of "hard news" though it would work well in a column. (However, I can't picture Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman or Bob Herbert using it at this late date -- too obvious and over done. For that matter, not even Safire the Right Wing Pacifier -- probably Thomas Friedman would do cartwheels over the phrase).

Bumiller addresses the issue of Robert Novak and Karl Rove's contact in the following:

. . . even though Mr. Novak has said on CNN, "I can't tell you anything I ever talked to Karl Rove about, because I don't think I ever talked to him about any subject, even the time of day, on the record."
Whether Mr. Novak forgot about the 1999 mentions is unclear. What is clear is that Mr. Rove has made frequent appearances in Mr. Novak's column in a positive light, often in paragraphs that imparted information about the inner workings of Mr. Bush's operation, feeding perceptions here that Mr. Rove is one of the columnist's most important anonymous sources.

[. . .]
These days, friends of the two men say they have not seen Mr. Rove and Mr. Novak at dinner together and note that there is little the two would have to celebrate. But in June 2003, The Chicago Sun-Times gave a party for Mr. Novak at the Army and Navy Club here to salute 40 years of his columns.
The biggest political celebrity guest, to no one's surprise, was Mr. Rove.

If most people miss that part of the article (it's way down in the article) that may result from the fact that Bumiller continues to turn in news reporting that reads like feature reporting. Ava and I noted one Sunday that there's really not a great deal of difference between Bumiller's White House Letter (today Bumiller's clearly written an article, not a White House Letter, just FYI) and the White House Memo done by others in terms of "news." The only difference we can see (Ava and I spoke about this earlier on the phone when I saw Wally's e-mail) is in the execution and Bumiller writes like a feature writer.

Wally also notes that Adam Nagourney turns a GOP claim into a "full fledged article" but a Democratic claim is "less important so it results in coverage in a small AP article." The two run side by side. (No Nagourney link, I'm trying to ensure everyone has a pleasant Saturday morning.) Six paragraphs to cover a Dem assertion (in an AP article). Fourteen paragraphs to cover a Repube assertion. The fact that the two articles run side-by-side only makes it all the more noticeable.

Lastly, Kara, Rob and Jonah all e-mail to note Laurie Goodstein's "Threat to Divest Is Church Tool in Israeli Fight:"

The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. announced Friday that it would press four American corporations to stop providing military equipment and technology to Israel for use in the occupation of the Palestinian territories, and that if the companies did not comply, the church would take a vote to divest its stock in them.
The companies - Caterpillar, Motorola, ITT Industries and United Technologies - were selected from a list of several dozen possibilities by a church investment committee that met Friday in Seattle. The Presbyterians accused these companies of selling helicopters, cellphones, night vision equipment and other items Israel uses to enforce its occupation.
In an effort to appear even-handed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the church committee also included Citigroup on its list of targets, alleging it had a connection to a bank accused of having a role in funneling money from Islamic charities to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. The church said it included Citigroup because it was mentioned in an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Remember today brings a Democracy Now! special that will be carried on Pacifica:

On Saturday, August 6th, join Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman for a live broadcast celebrating local community media.
During this public event--part of Prometheus Radio’s Grassroots Radio Conference and Radio Barnraising -- Amy Goodman will interview:
* Martin Espada, the Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts
* Former SNCC field secretary, Ekwueme Michael Thelwell
* Sut Jhally, founder of the Media Education Foundation
* Long-time war tax resister and civil rights activist, Juanita Nelson
* John Nichols, co-founder of the media reform group, Free Press and other local writers and activists.
Democracy Now! Live, at John M. Greene Hall, Smith College, begins at 8 pm on Saturday, August 6th. Doors open at 7 pm. Tickets available at the door.

More information can be found here and here. Online streaming of the event will broadcast from 8:00 pm EST - 10:00 pm EST tonight.

And remember to check out Amy Goodman and her brother (and co-author of The Exception to the Rulers) David Goodman's "The Hiroshima Cover-Up" (originally run in Friday's Baltimore Sun):

Three days after publication of Mr. Burchett's shocking dispatch, Mr. Laurence had a front-page story in the Times disputing the notion that radiation sickness was killing people. His news story included this remarkable commentary: "The Japanese are still continuing their propaganda aimed at creating the impression that we won the war unfairly, and thus attempting to create sympathy for themselves and milder terms. ... Thus, at the beginning, the Japanese described 'symptoms' that did not ring true."
Mr. Laurence won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the atomic bomb, and his faithful parroting of the government line was crucial in launching a half-century of silence about the deadly lingering effects of the bomb. It is time for the Pulitzer board to strip Hiroshima's apologist and his newspaper of this undeserved prize.
Sixty years late, Mr. Weller's censored account stands as a searing indictment not only of the inhumanity of the atomic bomb but also of the danger of journalists embedding with the government to deceive the world.

At Wally's request, we'll go out with "It's Only a Summer Scandal" (Gwen Ifill's "informed" view on the Valerie Plame outing) (badly based upon Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler's "It's Only a Paper Moon.") :

Say, it's only a summer scandal
Bully Boy will soon have the handle
He's the king of the make-believe
Do you believe in me?

Yes, it's only a scandal de sum
Reporters move on if we play mum
King George of the make believe
Do you believe in me?

. . .

It's a Bully and Cheney world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn't be make-believe
If you believed in me

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