Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Other Items

Kyle e-mails to note Eric Schmitt's "Bush Nominee for Pentagon Is Under Attack" in this morning's New York Times.

Mr. Smith, a former ABC News producer who has worked as an adviser in both Bush administrations, said in an article in The Wall Street Journal on April 25 that the Arab satellite news channel Al Jazeera operated on behalf of terrorists and that American networks aided them by televising Al Jazeera's videotape.
"Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda have a partner in Al Jazeera and, by extension, most networks in the U.S.," Mr. Smith wrote. "This partnership is a powerful tool for the terrorists in the war in Iraq."
"Al Jazeera," he added, "has very strong partners in the U.S. - ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Video aired by Al Jazeera ends up on these networks, sometimes within minutes."

Kyle also notes the headline "Bush Nominee for Pentagon Is Under Attack" and wonders about the "inflammatory language." Kyle feels that "under attack" shows the Times identifying with the administration. (Something the Times would never, ever do.) The last parenthetical was sarcasm. And Kyle, the headline's a good issue but I'm too busy laughing at this phrase that pops up in the article: "uncharacteristically tepid" -- used to describe a statement by John Warner to give it the thought it deserves. "Tepid" pretty much sums up Warner's entire Senate career (and then some).

As for the statements themselves, Dorrance Smith didn't toss them out in an interview. He wrote them for publication in a paper and he is in the news business. Point, there's no weasling out by saying, "I was misquoted." As Carl Levin points out, Smith's position requires being chief liaison to the media.

Rachel notes Richard W. Stevenson and Anne E. Kornblut's "Leak Counsel Is Said to Press on Rove's Role:"

Mr. Fitzgerald, who is the United States attorney in Chicago, spent the day in Washington and summoned his team, including his chief F.B.I. investigator, Jack Eckenrode, for what appeared to be a final round of discussions about how to proceed.
Lawyers involved in the case have said Mr. Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, face the possibility of indictment on perjury or other charges related to covering up their actions.
The flurry of last minute activity had White House officials anticipating an announcement as soon as Wednesday about whether the prosecutor would seek indictments. Indictments of Mr. Libby or Mr. Rove or both would leave Mr. Bush a political crisis with the potential to reshape the remainder of his second term. It is not clear whether anyone else might be charged in the case, which centers on what role administration officials played in the disclosure of a covert C.I.A. officer's identity, first in Mr. Novak's column on July 14, 2003.

For those needing a laugh this morning should note merry punkster Scott McClellan who answered "Yes" to the query of whether, like the mythical George Washington, Cheney always told the truth.

Really Scotty? Even when he repeatedly drew false ties between Iraq and the 19 hijackers?

Micah e-mails to note David D. Kirkpatrick's "Senators in G.O.P. Voice New Doubt on Court Choice:"

Emerging from a weekly luncheon of Republican senators in which they discussed the nomination, several lawmakers suggested that as Ms. Miers continued her visits on Capitol Hill, she was not winning over Republican lawmakers.
"I am uneasy about where we are," said Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican on the Judiciary Committee who had so far expressed only support for the president's choice. "Some conservative people are concerned. That is pretty obvious."
Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, called Republican sentiment toward Ms. Miers's nomination "a question mark."

Best paragraph in the article? It's the Times so of course it's the final paragraph:

Asked if the debate had become "one-sided," with too few defending Ms. Miers, Senator Sessions, the Alabama Republican, struggled for words, then pushed a button for a nearby elevator in the Capitol building and told an aide, "Get me out of here."

If the Times had guts, they'd allow their writers to open with paragraphs like that. It is the most attention getting paragraph and would work as the perfect lead in. First of all, it's timely. Second of all it's a strong visual. Thirdly, it conveys the entire mood of the article. When going for more lively writing, Jill Abramsom may not know how entrenched the institution she's up against is.

I'm going to note something in full because, as I understand it, this is a get the word out, ASAP, priority piece. From Media Channel, Danny Schechter's "MediaChannel Appeal: Join Us In A "Show The War, Tell The Truth" Campaign:"

With the Bush administration on the defensive, with rationalizations for the war fading, with public opinion shifting, with talk of troop withdrawals all the buzz even as the Pentagon hardens "permanent" bases in the mess it has made of 'Messopotamia,' it's time for those who oppose the war to think about where our pressure and protest might hasten the war's end.
The Administration is locked into its own imperial logic with Condoleezza Rice even now refusing to rule out new wars in Iran and Syria. It is incapable and unwilling to listen to any voice other than its own, even as its forward thrust has been put on the defensive by scandals like the Valerie Plame affair and the Katrina catastrophe.
Protests to the ideologues and neocon warheads, in what a former Colin Powell aide now calls "The Cabal," are fruitless. That seems clear.
The Democrats as a party also seem too compromised and incapable of mounting the kind of opposition that is needed. We all know why. They drank the "Kool Aid" of war early on and uncritically backed the invasion. Some have now moved away from their earlier positions. Some politicians have admitted they were wrong, but as the war machine grinds on, most remain, uncomfortably perhaps, part of it.
We need to move beyond narrow partisanship. We need a new citizen-based campaign to make the war and its coverage an issue. We need to reach out to the existing anti-war movement, and beyond it.
Who should be targeted? Who can we turn to, and who can we turn on?
Why not the media!
Without TV and press cheerleading the war could never have won support. With pressure, we can encourage the media to move in the other direction.
Its time for a "SHOW THE WAR, TELL THE TRUTH" campaign aimed at unmasking media collusion and pressing for better coverage.
As public opinion shifts, the media will shift too. It is already starting to, although not quickly enough. Many media outlets remain out of step with the public because they are in lockstep with the war.
Readers and viewers are rebelling against what they've been seeing and reading. Viewing levels on TV news shows are down and newspaper circulation is down as well. There is a reason that some "fake-news" programs outdraw "real-news" programs.
One by one, the newspapers and journalists that backed the war are backing down. The pro-war media consensus has cracked, and not just because Judith Miller of the NY Times now admits she was wrong, wrong, wrong. Miller was not alone in pumping the rationale for war, and even as her muddled story comes out, there are bigger fish to fry in the higher ranks of media corporations where "group-think" rules.
There is now an opening to press the press and move the media to change the political climate by challenging politicians to abandon a war that has already been lost.
The media has the power to do it and we have the power to move them to do it.
"Mouse Journalism"
War reporting has become tougher than ever with the US military and insurgents targeting reporters in Iraq. Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk says the situation in Iraq is now so dangerous that he doesn't know whether he can go on reporting from the country. Britain's Press Gazette reports:
"Fisk, who has previously accused colleagues of practicing 'hotel journalism' in Iraq, said that 'mouse journalism' is now the best he can do in the country."
But there is more than a 'mice option.' Other ways to report exist, including use of stringers, collaborative projects, alternative video sources, Iraqi media outlets, bloggers, aid agencies, and so on. Unfortunately, too many media outlets believe that the only news worth covering are reports by their own reporters.
l. Inside-Out Reporting
Media companies are too locked into an old paradigm of "outside-in" journalism, when what's needed is "inside-out" coverage. Lets hear from the Iraqi people and more diverse sources.
2. Reports That Question Official claims
We need more aggressive reporting like a recent Washington Post story that clearly showed that many civilians were killed in air raids that the military insisted were only targeting insurgents. Commented a reader who sent us the link to the story: "the US media may be more willing to expose US atrocities in Iraq as Bush's war popularity sinks into the mire."
3. Independent Assessments of Political Developments
When US elections seem shamelessly rigged, why would we assume US stage-managed voting in Iraq is clean? Example: Most of the US media claimed that the new Iraq constitution won by a landslide. However, historian Gareth Porter did some digging and found evidence to contradict that spin.
"The final official figures for the province, obtained by IPS from a U.S. official in Mosul, actually have the constitution being rejected by a fairly wide margin, but less than the two-thirds majority required to defeat it outright."
"Both the initial figures and the new vote totals raise serious questions about the credibility of the reported results in Nineveh. A leading Sunni political figure has already charged that the Nineveh vote totals have been altered."
Nineveh is being pictured as the Ohio of Iraq. With electoral scandals common in the US, why should occupied Iraq be an exception?
4. Unembedded Photography
There are images of the war that media outlets are not showing. A French newspaper did a whole spread of graphic photos demonstrating what the war really looks like, that could as easily be run here.
And don't miss a powerful new book, "Unembedded" from Chelsea Green Publishers offering gripping photography from the war by four outstanding independent photojournalists. Why not press to get every newspaper and magazine in America to run spreads with these pictures?
5.Footage, Footage, Footage
It's there. Why can't we see it? At a recent protest at CNN HQ in Atlanta, network staffers told me that they get dramatic footage in from the conflict everyday that they do not put out. Why?
It is time to end censorship and self-censorship. A CNN producer told protesters with signs demanding "Show the War" that they should be there every day. Media insiders know that pressure can move PR sensitive executives to respond to public demands. They don't want to be challenged as toadies of a bankrupt Administration.
We need to insist that our media does its job, and when it won't, let's shame them. Their first amendment rights implies a duty to democracy. The Society for Professional Journalists should be pressed to join this campaign rather than give Judith Miller an award for courage.
Sometimes it takes a small motor to get a big motor going. The media will listen if we push hard enough. My own experience in writing about the war coverage and making the film WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) has persuaded me that there is enough of a sizable demand out there for better reporting. People prefer truth. Everyone wants a media that is trustworthy.
The public is waiting for leadership. Media companies will respond when pressured to live up to their professed values.
We can back media freedom and demand media responsibility at the same time. We want integrity in the media, not deception.
Journalists, authors, photographers and filmmakers can document problems, but it takes activists to make it an issue, to put it on the agenda.
Why not now?
It's time for a high-impact "Show The War, Tell The Truth" campaign. Let's keep the shocking cost of this conflict in people's faces. At this writing, the cost is: $203,348,700,989 and going up by the second. See
Will you join us? Can't we build a coalition of conscience and consciousness around the public's right to know? Can we reach out to many organizations and individuals and invite them to take part? This effort and efforts like it are not the property or province of a few. It demands a united effort. All are welcome.
Will you help organize this campaign where you live? There are plenty of articles, books and films you can use to move the public, to move the media, to insist that the politrick-ians end the war.
We know the problem. It's time to act on it, to talk back to journalists who don’t get it, and support journalists who do.
It is time to appeal to the media industry: "SHOW THE WAR, TELL THE TRUTH!"
Send your responses to
- News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs on these issues daily for For more on his new book, WHEN NEWS LIES: Media Complicity and the Iraq War, and his film WMD see
* If you would like to get MediaChannel's FREE daily Media Savvy newsletter,
click here to subscribe.

Let's try to go for a group entry tonight. If you have a thought or suggestion or comment on the above, note it in an e-mail and we'll try to compile an entry from that. (Noting it in an e-mail here does not mean that you shouldn't send it on into Danny.) If someone knows the west coast org, we can identify it. Otherwise, let's not make that focus of the e-mails. (I have my guess as well and hope I'm wrong.)

Krista asks that we note Nina Siegal "Viggo Mortensen Interview" (The Progressive) one more time:

Q: Are you hopeful about political change?
Mortensen: I think most Americans will look back on this period since 1980 as a morally bleak, intellectually fraudulent period of history. There will be a certain amount of shame, a feeling we were part of something wrong. People standing outside of this country can see this because it’s very obvious. It's like looking at a spoiled brat, a kid who''s totally out of control, but because the parents are really rich and because they own the school, you have to put up with it. America is an empire in decay. But we don't have to lash out and do damage on the way down. We can reverse some of the damage we've done. It's possible.
Q: You have been criticized for wearing anti-war T-shirts while promoting your films, particularly The Lord of the Rings. Did you have a particular strategy?
Mortensen: I made use of an opportunity. The first time was in the fall of 2002, when I happened to be on The Charlie Rose Show. I went there wearing a shirt that I just scribbled with a pen, "No More Blood for Oil."
Q: But it was also connected to the politics of the movie.
Mortensen: Yes, I was getting tired of journalists presuming that "obviously" the Fellowship of the Ring is America or the West, surrounded by poor Oriental Islamic extremists. Tolkien presents a complex and detailed and interesting set of stories and ideas and archetypes. The Lord of the Rings was appreciated around the world because it speaks to a lot of universally understood truths and myths, not because it justified the right wing of the Republican Party or some kind of North American Protestant Christian fundamentalism.
Q: Following the Charlie Rose appearance, USA Today contributor Michael Medved took you to task for ruining a popular movie by politicizing it. "Political preachments, on or off camera, only interfere with the entertainment value of creative work by major Hollywood stars," he wrote, in a piece that got a lot of attention. What did you think?
Mortensen: It was a shoddy piece of journalism. I won't descend to his level to call him an idiot or anything like that, but it was obviously something he did to curry favor with his fan base or the people he would like to impress in religious political circles. He wanted to be able to say, "Look, I slapped that guy down." The only reason he took aim at me at all was because the movie I was in had done very well, so I was a visible person. The establishment media will often do that; they’ll see someone who has visibility and they'll take them down. The risk is that the person might actually be listened to. It poses a threat. I'm glad I resisted the temptation to respond at the time. In the end, it didn't mean that much to me.

Rod e-mails to note the topic for today's Democracy Now!:

Wednesday, October 26: Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski joins us in our firehouse studio to talk about her role as the head of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq when the now-famous torture pictures were taken in the fall of 2003. She is author of a new book titled "One Woman's Army: The Commanding General of Abu Ghraib Tells Her Story."

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