Monday, January 30, 2006

Other Items

Public television's longest-running public affairs program, the Friday night "Washington Week," is joining forces with another Washington fixture, the weekly nonpartisan magazine National Journal, in a move that will bring more marketing heft to the small but influential media outlets.
The deal between the two sober chroniclers of Capitol Hill will be announced today. The collaboration, which is initially for two years, starts officially on Feb. 17, when the program will become known as "Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal."
John Fox Sullivan, National Journal's group publisher and chief executive, said that the magazine and the TV program have a "natural editorial fit" as outlets "for people who have brains and actually exercise their brains and people who have power and influence and exercise their power and influence."

The above is from Elizabeth Jensen's attempt at stand up comedy in this morning's New York Times (the comedy routine is dubbed "National Journal Teams With 'Washington Week' of PBS"). Public affairs programming? Gwen chuckles, Gwen doesn't know the basic facts and, most famously, Gwen gets flustered when the Constitution is discussed and says of an Amendment (the First, I believe), "Well, whatever it says . . ." Public affairs programming requires informing the public. To do that, someone would first need to inform Ifill. But she can't can't cook all those wonderful home cooked meals for Condi Rice and be informed at the same time, let alone non-partisan. At least Condi appreciates the cook she's found in Gwen and thanks her publicly and repeatedly.

That devotion no doubt takes the sting out Gwen's uninformed judgement calls such as when she called the outing of Valerie Plame "a summer scandal" only.

Eli notes Robert Pear's "Budget to Hurt Poor People on Medicaid, Report Says:"

Millions of low-income people would have to pay more for health care under a bill worked out by Congress, and some of them would forgo care or drop out of Medicaid because of the higher co-payments and premiums, the Congressional Budget Office says in a new report.
The Senate has already approved the measure, the first major effort to rein in federal benefit programs in eight years, and the House is expected to vote Wednesday, clearing the bill for President Bush.

Cindy notes Alexander Cockburn's "Nicholas Kristof's Brothel Problem" (CounterPunch):

I'd got so used to Nicholas Kristof's January visits to prostitutes in Cambodia that it was a something of a shock to find him this January in Calcutta's red light district instead.
As readers of his New York Times columns across the past three years will know, Kristof heads into south east Asia around this time--a smart choice, weatherwise--to write about the scourge of child prostitution. One can hardly fault him for that, even though Kristof's bluff, busy-body prose is particularly irksome as he takes his pet peeve out for an annual saunter, the way A.M. Rosenthal did for years with female circumcision in Africa.
So far as I know, Rosenthal never actually bought a young African woman to save her from circumcision. Maybe they aren't for sale. In 2004, Kristof did buy two young Cambodian women--Srey Neth for $150 and Srey Mom for $203--to get them out of the brothels in Poipet, and took them back to their villages.
There was something very nineteenth-century abut the whole thing, both in moral endeavor and journalistic boosterism, though presumably there was a twentieth-first century footnote as to whether Kristof billed the Times for the purchase money and transport expenses or listed the girls as a charitable deduction on his own tax return, which could have led to sharp interrogation by some cynical IRS auditor.

And Mia notes Norman Solomon's "Domestic Lying: The Question That Journalists Don't Ask Bush" (Common Dreams):

With great fanfare the other day, Oprah Winfrey asked James Frey a question that mainstream journalists refuse to ask George W. Bush: "Why would you lie?"
Many pundits and news outlets have chortled at the televised unmasking of Frey as a liar. The reverberations have spanned from schlock media to highbrow outlets. On Friday, the PBS "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" devoted an entire segment to what happened. The New York Times supplemented its page-one coverage with an editorial that concluded "Ms. Winfrey gave the audience, including us, what it was hoping for: a demand to hear the truth."
A key reality of the National Security Agency spying story is: President Bush lied. But routinely missing from media coverage is a demand to hear the truth.
More than two years after he started the NSA's domestic spying without warrants, Bush was unequivocal. During a speech in Buffalo on April 20, 2004, he said: "Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."
Frey lied about his personal life in a book, and that infuriated Oprah Winfrey. "It is difficult for me to talk to you, because I really feel duped," she said, confronting him in the midst of the Jan. 26 telecast. "I feel duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers."
Yet the journalists who interview Bush aren't willing to question him in similar terms.

Thank you to Jess and Ty for doing last night's entries on reports from outside the US mainstream media: "Reporting from outside the US mainstream media" and "And the war drags on . . .."

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today.

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