Sunday, June 04, 2006

NYT: Good, bad, ugly & shameful

The good, the bad the ugly? That may be how we highlight the New York Times this morning.

Let's start with the good. Page 24 (main section on all highlights) contains Scott Shane's "Invoking Secrets Privilege Becomes a More Popular Legal Tactic by U.S."

First off, you get a photo of Sibel Edmonds. But her story is allowed only a part of a single sentence. (A lengthy sentence, no question.) What you learn is that Bully Boy's Justice Department (no chuckles, please) is asserting the state secrets privilege "more frequently . . . than under any of his predecessors -- in 19 cases, the same number as during the entire eight-year presidency of Ronald Reagan, the previous record holder . . ."

The article contains too many qualifiers. For instance, too many "he has said"s -- two -- when later in the article you learn that Khaled el-Masri's "story has been confirmed by American and German officials" (actually, Democracy Now! viewers learn nothing new today). It's an overview and, my opinion, it demands much more space than it's given.

The bad? James Glanz and Robert F. Worth's "Attacks on Oil Industry in Iraq Aid a Vast Smuggling Network." It's based entirely on "senior Iraqi and American officials here say."
Coming at a time when two other 'reporters' are outed as press release readers (live from the Green Zone), basing a front page story on allegations seems more than a bit laughable. When you consider that they've ignored reporting on any of the 'oil blazes' in the last month, their sudden interest appears motivated by nothing other than "officials here say." When you take a moment to realize that no lengthy article (no article at all) focused on UNICEF's malnutrition study, you realize they're wasting everyone's time while they act like "officials here say" makes for reporting. Who needs Hill & Knowlton? Just whisper it to "reporters" for the Times and save the fees.

The ugly? Is there anything uglier than war pornography? And is there anything uglier than war pornographer Michael R. Gordon? (Do you think he watched his 'good friend' David Albright's appearance on Democracy Now! Friday?)

A12 is where Gordo whacks it. The article's entitled "Iran Is a Leader in Terror, Rumsfeld Tells Defense Group." Like his former writing partner, Judith Miller, Gordo knows to stay on message. Gordo leads with Rumsfeld's assertion. Like a favorite centerfold he's hidden under the bed, he lovingly pulls it out. As though the assertion is news. Since it's not been proven and since Rumsfeld's been making the "one of the leading terrorist nations in the world" claim for months (he trotted it out to CNBC on February 3, 2006), it's hardly something to lead with.

Unless you're an angry man fearful of your war-on going soft. In which case, you open with it. As though it's fresh or new (or proven). You get it into print, roll over and fall asleep, dreaming of what you hope is a coming war, another one you helped prime the pump for.

Michael Gordon's still not been held accountable anywhere near the level that Judith Miller was. As we said here throughout last summer, people are aware that she shared bylines, right? Gordon was one of her co-writers. Back then, he got second billing. On his own, he seems a little lost.

If you want to add the shameful, check out "War's Risks Include Toll on Training Values"Mark Mazzetti's latest. Reporter as mouthpiece/reporter as apologist. It's interesting what passes for balance. I'd love to see a story that only quoted one side, say, on a peace march.

Be sure to read Trina's "Potatoes Anna in the Kitchen." And new content is up and going up at
The Third Estate Sunday Review. Ava and I finished our TV piece, hours ago. While we worked on that, a piece was supposed to be written and go through mulitple drafts. It's the fiction edition this Sunday and there was an attempt to work this feature around a highlight that was already noted here at this site but they had an e-mail asking that it be noted there. I'm honestly not sure it was worth being noted here so I was less than pleased, as Jim will note in his "A note to our readers," that time was wasted on forcing a piece instead of working on one of the ideas that had already been discussed. (Ty had a great idea for a science fiction piece.) The piece is unworkable and to try to make it work would mean making it too similar to another piece already completed. We took an hour and a half to do the TV piece -- we took time to read the script of the episode we'd watched -- and thought, "All that will be left is fine tuning and the editorial." The editorial consisted of scattered jottings -- it still does. I took a break, to do this entry, when it was apparent the non-workable piece was still going to be labored over. There's nothing to say in the non-workable piece because it's already covered in the edition. I'm betting it won't go up although it will make the print edition. (I'm having trouble with links in this post so Jim, Ty and Ava, of The Third Estate Sunday Review -- title's a copy and paste of a link from their web site in the Memorial Day news piece.) Jim said to mention it here so I am. If you missed it last night, Kat's latest review (Kat's Korner: Janis Ian blows in on a gentle breeze) went up. We've still got to write the editorial so that's it for this entry.

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