In the New York Times today, David E. Rosenbaum does a book report in the main news section (formerly the hard news section). Like a fifth grader cribbing from an Encyclopedia Britanica, Rosenbaum merely rewrites what's in front of him. Which makes for the sort of dull trash that Cindy Adams wouldn't put her name to. But Rosenbaum's happy to hand it in and get his pat on the head. Louis Freeh was in charge of the FBI on September 11, 2001. It takes a really "challenged" student (Rosenbaum) to repeat Freeh's claims without questioning.
Like some little boys, he's most interested in snickering about sex. Which is why, presumably, he's got to go over Monica Lewinsky.
Lewinsky? All this time later? The Times has been happy to push Bully Boy's Operation Scare The Hell Out of America, so can they explain why, with the recent terrorist "threat" against NYC, they're happy to print this snickering?
Freeh doesn't rate highly in my book. But he's written a book. Presumably there are points to be addressed re: national security --- points a serious jouranlist could address, take from the book and say "This reflects ___" or "This belief is countered by reality when one remembers ____." So why is Rosenbaum wasting everyone's time by instead going on about Monica Lewinsky or personality conflicts?
Again, Cindy Adams wouldn't churn out this junk. Cindy Adams has more self-respect than Rosenbaum. But Rosenbaum's happy to turn the whole piece into a trash Bill Clinton one. (Maybe he just read the chapter "Bill & Me"?) In passing he can list Freeh's laments.
There weren't enough translators in the department, the computer system was out of date and underfunded.
From the public record, the problems with the translation department had to do with failures to do background checks on prospective employees, failure of oversight and failure to hold anyone accountable. From the public record, the FBI's computer system was like Seymour in The Little Shop Of Horrors and remains like Seymour to this day -- gobbling up everything in sight. There's been no improvement to this day on the computer system.
Rosenbaum can't tell you any of that because he's too busy snickering. If he thinks that saying little is added, by the book, that wasn't already in Freeh's public testimony cuts it, he's mistaken.
This is a gossip column, it doesn't even qualify for a book report. (And the Times can't do book reviews -- even in their Sunday section.)
In the real world . . .
Brenda e-mails to note Arianna Huffington's "Russert Watch: Meet the Press Running on Fumes" (The Huffington Post) (Brenda says it's a "must read"):
Next up, though, was where you got to see the pure, unadulterated Meet the Press conventional wisdom -- without even any pretense of substantive conversation -- in all its horrible glory.
It came during the roundtable, which featured David Broder, Kate O'Beirne, E.J. Dionne, and Ron Brownstein. Small matters like the war and Plamegate each got one very brief mention (without, for the second week in a row, Tim bringing up his own role in the latter).
So what did they talk about for twenty minutes? Judging by Tim's questions, the biggest issue facing our country right now -- a country currently at war (with 21 American soldiers dead in the first ten days of this month), a country about to undergo an unprecedented rebuilding effort, a country with historic levels of debt, a country with an administration that's imploding from its own hubris, incompetence, and cronyism -- is what "the fallout" will be on the 2006 election with special reference to the turnout on the right.
All other issues were deemed important only in terms of how they may impact the midterm election -- over a year away. The roundtable consensus was summed up by Broder, the dean of the Washington press corps: "second terms tend to go downhill." So there you have it. When you're part of the world-weary permanent Washington media establishment, you see administrations come and go -- like the circus. They come to town, they leave town. And the roundtable stays and utters its conventional wisdom on it all -- including what Broder again called the "classic second-term unraveling" and what it all -- especially the latest polls -- means for the 2006 election.
But, given that we're such a long way away from November 2006, and that such prognosticating is such a waste of time right now, my proposal is that Meet the Press simply go on hiatus until next summer, when such analysis will at least seem less irrelevant. And I'm not just saying this because I want to go back to sleeping in on Sunday morning.
Kyle e-mails to note Joel Bleifuss' "Kurt Vonnegut's In These Times Opus" (In These Times):
On November 11, In These Times Senior Editor Kurt Vonnegut will turn 83. Here at the magazine we raise our glasses.
He was 29 when he published his first novel, Player Piano, in 1952. Since then he has written 13 others, including Slaughterhouse Five, which stands as one of the pre-eminent anti-war novels of the 20th century and was his first best seller. His most recent best seller is A Man Without A Country, a work of nonfiction that came out in September, published by Seven Stories Press in New York. Portions of the book originally appeared in In These Times.
Below, we provide the links to some of the articles Kurt has written for the magazine, including an interview I did with him in January 2003, as the war against Iraq loomed. That interview became the most popular story at inthesetimes.com and was translated and reprinted in Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, and La Jornada, Mexico’s most respected daily newspaper.
Not much in the Times that hasn't been news, and in the news, while the paper relaxed for the weekend. Per Bonnie, remember yesterday's entries: "Reporting from outside the US mainstream media focused on Iraq" and "Reporting from outside the US mainstream media focused on Iraq." The second one listed is NOT focused on Iraq. I was tired and didn't even notice they were titled the same thing.
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