Thursday, April 06, 2006

NYT: A funny kind of "balance"

The Department of Homeland Security's deputy press secretary appeared in a Maryland state court on Wednesday and refused extradition to Florida, where he faces charges of using the Internet to seduce someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
The press official, Brian J. Doyle, was arrested Tuesday night in his home in Silver Spring, Md., after nearly a month of computer contact with a Polk County detective who was posing as a teenager. Mr. Doyle now faces 23 counts of using a computer to seduce a child and transmission of harmful material to a minor. Under Florida law, each count is a third-degree felony that carries a five-year prison term.

The above is from Michael Janofsky's "Official Resists Extradition on Charge Involving Internet and Sex" in this morning's New York Times. Innocent until guilty is at the root of our court system. But a refusal to probe is at the root of the Times. Now not always. Not when it came to Wen Ho Lee certainly. But for Larry Franklin, even after he pleaded guilty, the Times sure did maintain a hands off policy. Today they really aren't interested in the details of the arrest or very much else. Now Michael Jackson they can splash on the front page repeatedly. But there's a different principle at play for Republicans. Possibly Jackson should have just joined the GOP? It certainly would have allowed him to get less intense coverage from the Times. Just like when a Virginia Republican, married, didn't seek re-election to Congress -- a family values type who made homophobic statements and supported homophobic policies -- after it was revealed that he had utilized a gay dating service. That didn't register at the Times. Today, someone working for Homeland Security, arrested on the allegation that they solicited sex from someone they thought was an under-age female (fourteen-years-old) also doesn't result in much coverage.

You have to go elsewhere for details on this case. Martha steers us to Ernesto Londoño and Spencer S. Hsu's "Arrest of Official Prompts Probe By House Panel Into DHS Hiring" (Washington Post):

It was a key night in their relationship because the "girl" had agreed to pose nude for him on a Web camera, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said yesterday in an interview.
Judd said Doyle disclosed his credentials to the girl. "We thought it was some kind of ruse," Judd said. "But we quickly discovered it was correct."

[. . .]
Doyle's security clearance, badge and facility access passes were suspended, and he is not being paid, the federal agency said in a statement yesterday.
Spokesman Russ Knocke declined to say what security clearance Doyle had.
Doyle is a former news and assignment editor of Time magazine's Washington bureau who accepted a buyout in 2001 and later joined the Transportation Security Administration as a spokesman. He has been in 15-year relationship with a woman who attended his brief court hearing yesterday, Helfand said.

It's a funny kind of "balance" the Times plays. Be accused of spying for China and using sex with assorted FBI agents and it's swept under the rug by the paper of record (to note another Republican scandal). Be accused of soliciting sex and transmitting pornograpy to and from someone you think is fourteen-years-old, and it's not such a big deal. It's a one day story.

Tim Golden's not bound by any constraints in "Boycott Threat Roils Guantánamo Hearing." He's not even bound by the constraint that would suggest to most people that what's going on is rather serious. So he can crack jokes and make ha-has like this:

The courtroom drama occasionally recalled the much-parodied 1992 Guantánamo film "A Few Good Men," with Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise.

Oh, Timmy, you crack us up with your pop-cult refs. (The laughter you hear is from people wondering if Timmy's not playing to the yokels but flashing his own yokel-hood.) We all eagerly await the next report to see if he'll will offer a comparison of the proceedings to The Naked Gun?
It's interesting the difference between the two stories. On one, the Times tries so hard to walk the straight and narrow and avert the eyes, on the other, it's ha-has and innuendo. For instance, a nineteen-year-old's siblings are trotted out by Golden, with whispers. But we get no whispers about the Homeland Security employee. In fact, they do such a poor job covering that story that the headline really tells you everything the article can. It's an interesting sort of treatment.

With regards to Michael Jackson, the Times was more than willing to front page that story, day after day. They felt the need to assign two reporters to the story because surely it was the most important story of the day and no rumor was not worth including. Now we see someone in Homeland Security who's accused of using government time and government equipment to pursue sex with what he thought he was an under age female and the paper of record wants to play it 'tasteful.' Of course, it should be noted that Jackson's African-American. How much that played into the paper's decision to cover the story so excessively who knows?

But they did daily updates and no rock was too small for them to turn over or crawl under.

On the topic of the Guantanamo prisoners, Jenny notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Facing Facts on Torture" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

In the February 27 issue of The New Yorker, Jane Mayer reported on the efforts of Alberto Mora, outgoing general counsel for the US Navy, to stop the Pentagon from authorizing the use of cruel and unusual punishment beginning three years ago.
In the article, Mora describes with chilling detail a meeting with top administration and military officials to discuss whether to "[make] it official Pentagon policy to treat detainees in accordance with Common Article Three of the Geneva conventions, which bars cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, as well as outrages against human dignity."
Mora noted the giant pink elephant in the room, saying, "… it's a statute. It exists--we're not free to disregard it. We're bound by it. It's been adopted by the Congress. And we're not the only interpreters of it. Other nations could have US officials arrested."

Nevertheless, this proposal to officially adhere to the Geneva Convention was rejected.
On March 2, Ray McGovern, 27-year veteran of the CIA, joined 15 other activists to walk the halls of Congress. They wore
orange jumpsuits similar to those of detainees at Guantanamo, with gags over their mouths that displayed the single word "torture."

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

* Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed -- A new report by PR Watch exposes video news releases disguised as real news on local TV.

Also, event today:

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Thu, Apr 6
Amy Goodman Speaking at Center School
The Center School
270 West 70th St.
New York, 10023
For more information:

Tomorrow the Unembed the Media tour takes Goodman to Baton Rogue. For that and other appearances use the link. (And we'll note them tomorrow as well.)

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