Saturday, April 29, 2006

NYT: Grey Lady, check the slip, your bias may be showing

Dr. Lester M. Crawford, the former commissioner of food and drugs, is under criminal investigation by a federal grand jury over accusations of financial improprieties and false statements to Congress, his lawyer said Friday.
The lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, would not discuss the accusations further. In a court hearing held by telephone on Thursday, she told a federal magistrate that she would instruct Dr. Crawford to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination if ordered to answer questions this week about his actions as head of the Food and Drug Administration, according to a transcript of the hearing.
Dr. Crawford did not reply to messages seeking comment, and Kathleen Quinn, an F.D.A. spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The above is from Gardiner Harris' "Ex-Head of F.D.A. Faces Criminal Inquiry" in this morning's New York Times. The FDA is, of course, the Food and Drug Adminstration. I make that point because it's not a good news day for Republicans and a news search of "Republican" and "drug" would also probably turn up the news on Rush Limbaugh. In the Times, Jeff Leeds covers it with "In Legal Deal, Limbaugh Surrenders in Drug Case:"

Mr. Limbaugh's lawyer, Roy Black, said his client and prosecutors in Palm Beach County had reached a settlement in which Mr. Limbaugh would be charged with a single count in connection with allegations that he illegally obtained multiple prescriptions for a drug from more than one doctor.
As part of the agreement, which Mr. Black said would be filed with the court on Monday, the charge would be dropped in 18 months if Mr. Limbaugh continued to undergo treatment for drug addiction.
Mr. Limbaugh is also required to refrain from breaking the law during the 18-month period, pay $30,000 to Florida officials to offset the cost of the investigation and pay $30 a month for the cost of supervision, Mr. Black said.

It must be nice to get a prosecutor to agree with your demands. Limbaugh walks and doesn't even admit guilt (his lawyer says his client continues to maintain he's innocent). It must be nice to be able to break the law, refuse to admit you're guilty, force an agreement through, and, if you can keep your nose clean, be able to walk away with no charge on your record.

Will G. Gordon Liddy write a piece for the rag TV Guide smearing Limbaugh and his parents? No, that's only if the celeb isn't a righty. (Liddy smeared Winona Ryder and her family in print.) Well Rush is a "quota queen." Not in the sense that he uses the term. But he's part of the group that always comes out on top (while playing the victim for all it's worth). Less perceived power (and money) and he might be serving hard time. Instead, he gets to walk. But Rush isn't "guilty." It was never his fault. He tried to blame the maid (saying she'd blackmailed him), he tried to blame the authorities (saying he was a victim). He maintained he would be found innocent (which really hasn't happened). I'm not sure what kind of treatment he's taking part in but most treatment programs require "accountability" and there's been no indication that he grasps the concept.

Of course, this won't prevent him from lecturing others about accountability. For people like Limbaugh, accountability starts at home, just not your own home. Your neighbor's home, yes, but your own home never.

Accountability? Let's talk the Times for a bit.

Did Brian Lavery's doctor put his finger tips on bed rest? What other possible explanation could there be for his (and the paper's) silence on a story that others have covered this week? While Lavery's been playing "cute" with travel reporting ("Letter From Dublin: Want a Debate With That Drink," April 26, 2006; "Affordable Europe: Dublin," April 23, 2006) there has been real news out of Ireland, or, at least, other news organizations have seen it as news.

The Financial Times of London:

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary, welcomed the latest assessment yesterday of IRA moves to end its terrorist campaign. He said it should provide a "helpful contribution to the rebuilding of trust and confidence in Northern Ireland which is necessary for a return to full devolution".

What's he welcoming? New York Times readers might wonder since there hasn't been an article on it. If there hasn't been an article on it, maybe it doesn't matter?

Scotland's The Herald didn't think it was unimportant:

A GLIMMER of hope appeared in the Northern Ireland peace process yesterday after the Independent Monitoring Commission declared the IRA leadership was committed to following a political and peaceful path.
If the report had found the IRA had not reduced its criminal activity and intelligence gathering, the peace process would have been dead in the water.

The peace process would have been dead in the water? If the Independent Monitoring Commission had come to different conclusions? Sounds like news. Even Tony Blair thoughts so as evidenced by what the Toronoto Sun ran:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he hoped the experts‘ conclusions would promote "sufficient confidence and trust" in Northern Ireland for the province‘s legislature to elect a new power-sharing administration involving Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party that represents most Catholics in the British territory.

The Independent of London reported the following:

In its most upbeat report ever, the Independent Monitoring Commission, which makes assessments of terrorist groups in Northern Ireland, said it was not aware of any current terrorist, paramilitary or violent activity sanctioned by the IRA leadership. It said: "There has now been a substantial erosion in the IRA's capacity to return to a military campaign without a significant period of build-up, which in any event we do not believe they have any intentions of doing."

Considering the Times' willingness to smear Sinn Fein and to lecture Ireland ("Bullies" was a popular term in one editorial), you might think the report would be of interest to them. Other reports from the Independent Monitoring Commission have been. (See reports that the Times ran on January 19, 2005 by Lizette Alvarez and numerous ones by Brian Lavery himself -- the most recent being February 2, 2006. The most interesting may be this one from 2005 penned by Lavery.) Of course the difference between previous IMC reports and this one is that they aren't as damning. When you've worked yourself into a righteous lather over the "Bullies of Belfast" (as opposed to the ones at West 43rd?) maybe you just choose to ignore what even the Associated Press reports? (Longer version here.) The BBC reported it but possibly Alan Cowell wasn't looking for stories that day?

Just as the paper somehow missed Bill Clinton's trip to Ireland, they somehow didn't hear this news. Readers who place their faith in the Times can be forgiven if they're caught off guard by the news, but can the paper be? The paper that sees a death and immediately knows the culprit, (Lavery's a one man Frank & Joe Hardy) is the same paper that's managed to report on parade violence. At least some parade violence. The reason that Irish and Irish-American members of this community wonder if the paper's hostile to Catholics or just Irish-Catholics has to do with which stories get reported and which ones do not. A parade where Irish Catholics are reported to be assaulted (by other outlets) doesn't make the Times. A little bit later, when anoter parade leads to reports of Protestants being assaulted does make the paper.

It's not balance. And if the "Bullies of 43rd Street" are at all interested in the peace process in Ireland (as opposed to just smearing), they have a strange way of demonstrating that. Bill Clinton's trip to Ireland was, in part, about the peace process. But, despite the fact that any trip abroad by a former president meets the Times' criteria for "news" (official + travel = "exotic"), that trip didn't. And Clinton wasn't hiding from reporters as coverage elsewhere demonstrated. The Times appeared to be hiding the news from their readers.

Why that was is anyone's guess. But in a week when their much cited IMC issues a report that's favorable to the peace process, it's very strange that the Times has no interest in reporting it.
That's sort of action is at the heart of charges of bias. I'm sure the paper would have another excuse for it. They usually do. But this was news . . . just not in the pages of the New York Times.

Now travel's all very well and good and it might even teach Lavery the name of towns he reports on (see his July 31, 2005 piece to grasp the necessity of that). But when he pops up with his latest bit of news, like it or not, the paper of record will have to know that some readers will be reading it closely. They have to, the paper's own actions make that necessary. (And did they ever run a correction of any form when they referred to Sinead O'Connor as "Mr."?)

Martha notes this information on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (airs Saturdays and Sundays, from seven to ten pm Eastern on Air America):

This Weekend, Telling Fact from Fiction

SCOTT GALINDEZ, Managing Editor, on United for Peace and Justice's New York City protest.
JEFF CHESTER, Executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and Nation contributor on Congress shutting down Public Access TV and privatizing the Internet.
KIM STANLEY ROBINSON, noted Science Fiction author on his (very predictive) work looking at climate change.
MITCHELL ZYKOFSKY, the step-son of John Talignani, a passenger on 9/11's Flight 93, on the controversial film "United 93."
GLEN FORD, co-publisher of, on challenging the conventional wisdom in news and politics.
KYRA GAUNT, author of "The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double Dutch to Hip Hop," on reclaiming our history through music.Join us. Those guests and more. This weekend on Air America Radio.
It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio.

That's from an e-mail the program sends out and you can sign up for the heads up (as Martha did) by using the link. Martha's not sure if Flanders' is back or not. (The e-mail didn't say.) But as she points out, Jeff Chester and Glen Ford are voices the community will probably want to hear.

Remember that today's the march if you're in the NYC area (and, wherever you are, remember to make yourself heard). From NOW (because peace is a feminist issue):

Saturday April 29 Proclaimed Peace Zone Day by New York City Council
With support for administration policies at an all time low, massive turnout is expected for the March for Peace, Justice & Democracy on Saturday, April 29 in New York City. The crowd, including representatives from a uniquely diverse coalition of groups, will call for an end to the war in Iraq and a new set of priorities at home.
The lead contingents in the march will include Hurricane Katrina survivors, Iraq war veterans and military families, immigrants' rights and racial justice activists, women's and LGBT rights advocates, labor organizers, environmental activists, students and other youth organizers, disability rights advocates, and others.
National artists and prominent figures marching include: Oscar winning actor Susan Sarandon; Oscar winning film director Jonathan Demme; writer/actor Malachy McCourt; Air America host Randi Rhodes; Michael Berg, whose son was the first U.S. civilian hostage killed in Iraq; Reverend Jesse Jackson; Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan; Faiza Al-Araji, a peace and women's rights advocate from Iraq; John Wilhelm, president of the union UNITE/HERE; National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy; and Anne Wright, the first State Department diplomat to resign protesting the Iraq War, among others.
According to Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of United For Peace & Justice, the nation's largest peace coalition and one of the march's initiating organizations: "The Bush administration hopes to diffuse pressure at home and in Iraq to end its occupation by bringing a portion of the troops home (maybe), but withdrawing some troops is completely unacceptable. It will not end the dying, the torture, and the misspending of billions of dollars on war. We need to withdraw all the troops, now. At the same time we are vigilantly opposed to any military action against Iran."
Lead organizers of the march are United for Peace and Justice, RainbowPUSH Coalition, National Organization for Women, Friends of the Earth, U.S. Labor Against the War, Climate Crisis Coalition, Peoples' Hurricane Relief Fund, National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, and Veterans For Peace. The number of endorsements has grown to more than 1,500 strong, and the list of invitees includes every member of Congress and other elected officials.
The contingents will gather starting at 10:30 am in the area stretching from 7th Avenue to Park Avenue South and 18th to 22nd Streets. The march will step off at 12 noon, and proceed south on Broadway to Foley Square for the Peace and Justice Grassroots Action Festival, ending at 6:00 pm.

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