Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The New York Times and the Coretta Scott King coverage (not a pretty picture)

Let's start with the Coretta Scott King and the New York Times watch. On Wednesday of last week, the Times' reporters noted the passing of Coretta Scott King. Today, Wednesday, the editorials note a passing as well -- the death of the telegram. To this day, no editorial or column has been run in the paper of record about the legacy or life of Coretta Scott King. The Times who tries to have the last (editorial) word on everything just hasn't been interested in King. A national figure herself, the widow of a national figure, and her passing means nothing to the editorial board or Gail Collins. The death of the telegram is a topic on the op-ed pages, the Oscar nominations are a topic on the op-ed pages, what Disney might do is a topic on the editorial pages, Coretta Scott King? Not worthy in their eyes.

That says a great deal about the paper and their "focus." The reporting today covers the funeral with "At Mrs. King's Funeral, a Mix of Elegy and Politics." How Elisabeth Bumiller earns a byline (reporting "from Washington") says a great deal about the paper as well since we're not in DC for any section of the article. Other parts of Georgia are noted are noted but "Brenda Goodman contributed reporting from Atlanta" is reduced to an end credit and not a bylined writer. Nothing from DC is noted in the article. What did Bumiller do? Maybe she did what she always does, got a hold of a speech that would be delivered later? But she gets a byline, the article is "By SHAILA DEWAN and ELISABETH BUMILLER." We won't call it racism per se, just note that its perfectly in keeping with the "star system" at the Times which allows "big names" to butt in and grab credit. In this case, the article is focused on what happened at the funeral in Lithonia (where Dewan's reporting from).

Coretta Scott King's is historic enough to lead the following to gather at her funeral:

four presidents, three governors, three planeloads of Congress members, celebrities, gospel stars and leading figures of the civil rights movement.

She's just not important enough for the Times to run an editorial or a column devoted to her life and legacy. The article itself? As a friend at the paper noted last night, "You're not going to pleased with it." No, I'm not. The paper uses King's death to settle old scores and advance it's own agenda. Which is why they cluck (and sneer: "spoke at times in rhyme") over Rev. Joseph Lowery's comments while propping right-winger TD Jakes.

Jakes makes the sort of idiotic remarks one would expect from a man who's "preaching" is noted for "teaching" that Jesus started the first "corporation" and other bromides along the lines of 'greed is good.' Portly Jakes is more known for his massive shoe collection and his wardrobe than for any contribution (spiritual or civil rights) so it's not surprising he's focused on appearance (her nails were done! her hair was done! -- as though she'd be in the coffin without those basic arrangements having been taken care of by the family and the funeral home).

Thanks for the fashion report, TD, and it's obvious why Texas members have explained the man's been nicknamed "TD Jokes." Meanwhile Lowery is mocked and clucked over. Among other crimes, Lowery mentioned the war ("We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there."). Hard to believe anyone other than the Times (and maybe Poppy Bush and Bully Boy) were shocked by that. There's a very "In front of the Queen Mother!" attitude here that I've not read in print since Diana Ross & the Supremes, in a royal performance attended by the Queen of England following the death of MLK, "shocked" the tender press by mentioning civil rights. Fleet Street comes to the Times and we're all a little worse for it.

For the record, Ross' "controversial" remarks, delivered during a performance of "Somewhere," were:

Yes, there's a place for each of us, and we must try to pursue that place where love is like a passion that burns like a fire. Let our efforts be as determined as that of Martin Luther King who had a dream that all God's children -- black men, white men, Jews, Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics -- could join hands and sing that great spiritual of old. Free at last! Free at last! Great God, almighty, free at last!

One hopes that if some Times' reporter snapped something along the lines of, "But Miss Ross, in front of the royal family!" to Lowery, he shot back, "Why not in front of the Bushes?"

Coretta Scott King spoke out against the invasion/occupation. Maybe it's shocking to the Times because their reporters are as ignorant as most of the nation since the paper of record was never to keen to cover opposition to the war. Or maybe the paper's just striking a pose to let everyone know that something's are simply not tolerated by the New York Times.

King's life stood for something and Lowery's contributions honored that legacy. Those gathered (other than possibly Bully Boy and his underlings) weren't shocked by Lowery's statements. Maybe this was Bumillie's contribution? Dewan read her Lowery's statment and she figured out what the official response in DC would be?

Now the paper can return to advocating that the King Center be turned over to the federal government. Which they did editorialize on (right before Coretta Scott King passed). On that, they can weigh in. And, as noted here, the one-sided reporting on the King Center that preceeded the editorial by several days was the paper's official position on the King Center. When they couldn't speak to Coretta Scott King, they were happy to use her as a pawn to insist that the family must stop debating and turn the Center over to the government. She passes and the same editorial board willing to use her as a pawn days before now falls strangely silent.

One would like to think it was their own shame that was keeping them silent since King died but the reality is this is part of the same war they conducted against her husband. (Something to remember the next time the editorial board wants to weigh in about what's 'best' for the King Center.) So they cluck about the war being mentioned, they cluck that Jimmy Carter mentions the FBI spying on MLK. They cluck, they play shocked Gray Lady and they embarrass themselves.

This isn't a good day for the paper of record but they'll probably get a pass for it the way they've gotten a pass for it every other day since Coretta Scott King passed away -- from their 'noted' critics who've had nothing to say on the issue. It's beyond sad. And the mainstream, so-called critics of the paper of record should slice themselves off a piece of the shame pie for their own silence. But then, we're talking about people who looked the other way on Judith Miller's reporting until Patrick Fitzgerald became part of the story (and, we're also talking about one supposed watchdog, mainstream watchdog of course, that actually praised her 2003 writing and likes to pretend that never happened).

Bonita notes "How many Time reporters knew they were deceiving readers about Rove's role in Plamegate?" (Media Matters):

On October 13, 2003, Time magazine ran an article that included a quote from White House press secretary Scott McClellan insisting that White House senior adviser Karl Rove had nothing to do with outing undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. As Media Matters for America has previously noted, at least two Time editorial employees involved in the article knew McClellan's denial was false: correspondent Matthew Cooper and Washington bureau chief Michael Duffy. Cooper knew the denial was false because Rove had outed Plame to him. Duffy knew the denial was false because Cooper had sent him an email relating what Rove had told him.
Former Time White House correspondent John Dickerson, in a first-person account of his knowledge of the Plame matter, now acknowledges that he, too, knew that Rove was Cooper's source well before the October 2003 article -- an article on which he, like Cooper, received reporting credit.
Dickerson, now's chief political correspondent, wrote a
February 7 article in which he described being on a July 2003 presidential trip to Africa when two senior Bush administration officials, speaking to him on background, criticized former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had gone on a 2002 mission to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium there. On July 6, 2003, The New York Times ran an op-ed by Wilson in which he challenged claims made by the administration in making its case for the Iraq war. According to Dickerson, the officials encouraged Dickerson to look into who sent Wilson to Niger.

Cindy notes Norman Solomon's "The Iran Crisis -- "Diplomacy" as a Launch Pad for Missiles" (Common Dreams):

The current flurry of Western diplomacy will probably turn out to be groundwork for launching missiles at Iran.
Air attacks on targets in Iran are very likely. Yet many antiwar Americans seem eager to believe that won't happen.
Illusion 1: With the U.S. military bogged down in Iraq, the Pentagon is in no position to take on Iran.
But what's on the horizon is not an invasion -- it's a major air assault, which the American military can easily inflict on Iranian sites. (And if the task falls to the Israeli military, it is also well-equipped to bomb Iran.)
Illusion 2: The Bush administration is in so much political trouble at home -- for reasons including its lies about Iraqi WMDs -- that it wouldn't risk an uproar from an attack on Iran.
But the White House has been gradually preparing the domestic political ground for bombing Iran. As the Wall Street Journal reported days ago, "in recent polls a surprisingly large number of Americans say they would support U.S. military strikes to stop Tehran from getting the bomb."
Above those words, the Journal's headline -- "U.S. Chooses Diplomacy on Iran's Nuclear Program" -- trumpeted the Bush administration's game plan. It's a time-honored scam: When you're moving toward aggressive military action, emphasize diplomacy.
Donald Rumsfeld proclaimed at a conference in Munich on Saturday that -- to put a stop to Iran's nuclear program -- the world should work for a "diplomatic solution." Yet the next day, the German daily newspaper Handelsblatt reports, Rumsfeld said in an interview: "All options including the military one are on the table."
Top U.S. officials, inspired by the royal "W," aren't hesitating to speak for the world. Over the weekend, Condoleezza Rice said: "The world will not stand by if Iran continues on the path to a nuclear weapons capability." Meanwhile, Rumsfeld declared: "The Iranian regime is today the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. The world does not want, and must work together to prevent, a nuclear Iran."
Translation: First we'll be diplomatic, then we can bomb.

Lloyd notes Ruth Conniff's "Gonzales says 'Just Trust Us'" (Ruth Conniff's Online Column, The Progressive):

In his daylong marathon of evasive remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales rebuffed Congressional efforts to get more information on the Bush Administration's wiretapping program, as well as its view of the limits of Presidential powers.
Senator after senator put the questions to Gonzales: How do we know what the Administration is up to? Whom its it targeting with its wiretapping? Is it focusing on legitimate national security concerns, or conducting a fishing expedition? And what is it doing with information it turns up?
Hurray for Senator Russ Feingold (D WI), who called out the Attorney General, saying "you've taken mincing words to a new high." Feingold's exchange with Gonzales highlighted the Attorney General's dishonesty. In his confirmation hearings, Feingold pointed out, the Senator asked then-nominee Gonzales specifically whether he believed the President had the authority to authorize wiretapping in violation of FISA. Gonzales said at the time that this was a "hypothetical" question. But, as Gonzales admitted during the hearings, he had already signed off on the then-secret NSA wiretapping program. He defended himself by saying that the Administration believes the wiretapping is not a violation of FISA but is "consistent with" FISA--even though FISA says that the "exclusive means" for domestic wiretapping is going to the FISA court for a warrant, which the Administration refuses to do. That's mincing words for you.

Rod passes on a scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now!:

A look at the first presidential elections in Haiti since the U.S.-backed ouster of Jean Bertrand Aristide nearly two years ago.

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