Thursday, July 13, 2006

Community note

First off, thanks to Ava and Jess who've really worked the e-mails this week (and thanks to them as well as Shirley and Martha who helped out last week). I've spent the morning in the e-mails and the subject just won't die.

There are also questions/concerns/fears that Democracy Now! will be linked to today.

It's not happening.

I'm not the Bully Boy. I don't see hardened opinion and think it will change. The opinion regarding the program is so strong in this community that I don't see it changing.

My own personal opinion? (Which many ask for in e-mails.) Even on a bad day, it's better than anything else we've got. I'm sorry that the opinion of the community is where it is but that's where it is and there's no point in denying it.

To address some of the topics coming up most frequently (or fiercly) in the e-mails.

The Gaza coverage.

Gaza is a difficult subject. It's got a long history that many listening (or watching or reading) may not be aware of. The events require a perspective (which Goodman & company -- my opinion -- provided). Providing that perspective may mean that a detail, even an important one, might get less attention or overlooked. Those who are very passionate about this issue find fault with the coverage and they're highly informed on the issue, they aren't "wrong." But the program reaches people other than those who have followed the issue.

When the e-mails started on this issue, there was a generic reply that went out from me which is if I put myself in Goodman's shoes, I don't think I don't know that I would've done it that much differently. (I wouldn't have apologized to a guest.) I did note that if you're bringing AIPAC on as a guest, due to the nature of an ongoing case, you have to ask them about that issue. It would be like having Bill Clinton on in the middle of the impeachment and never asking of the impeachment. (That's not likening Bill Clinton to AIPAC.) Though the impeachment, my opinion, was over nonsense, it was a serious issue to a presidency. By the same token that members who later were no longer with the organization (though they were with it when it was just an investigation, prior to charges being brought) are now the accused of spying is an issue. You can't bring an organization onto a news show with that in the air and not ask about it.

Kara and Brad wrote very detailed e-mails on the Gaza coverage, noting what was being left out. They weren't the only ones, but that's one of their big issues and they wrote the essay in the gina & krista round-robin on this. Were I in Goodman's shoes and had Kara and Brad prepping me for the interview, it would have gone differently. Left on my own, I can't say that it would have. (Other than I wouldn't have apologized to one guest and I would have asked AIPAC about the charges.)

Forgetting the coverage when the armed agression began and looking at the overall coverage in the last years, the program has (my opinion) obviously attempted to cover the subject.

War as an After Thought.

Mike captured that beautifully in his column that ran in Sunday's Polly's Brew. (And the comments weren't limited to one program.) What I can add to that is if you have someone a fast for peace who is also on the program to talk about an arrest and you pair him with another guest, the words, "We only have X seconds" shouldn't be said. That's a story in and of itself. You don't turn it into the quickie segment at the end. I'll pick up on this thread later on.

Ehren Watada.

The day of protest wasn't noted. It's felt that the issue was completely dropped until after the charges were brought. After that, it was felt that the coverage was very poor (waiting for the last segment, running out of time, questions not asking what was needed to be asked at the start when there would have been time to answer them). On every point in the e-mails, on all topics, I could see where the member was coming from with their remarks. On this issue, I was in the strongest agreement.

Where's the hypocrite charge?

I kept waiting for that. For the e-mail that called me a hypocrite for going after Edward Wong for getting the time of Steven D. Green's arrest wrong. My prepared reply was that Wong got it wrong on the same day Democracy Now! did and I didn't say anything. (I corrected the date in the descriptive paragraph of the segment we posted here and put a link on the date that took members to the BBC story that had the date correct.)

I didn't say anything about Wong, I didn't say anything about DN! They were both wrong and it was right after the Fourth of July so many people were playing catch up. Wong repeated the mistake in a major story in the New York Times. I called him out on it. The Times corrected it and we noted it here.

Democracy Now! got the date wrong again this Tuesday. (They're not the only ones getting it wrong. If you hear "last week" Green was arrested, you're hearing from someone who doesn't know their facts. He was arrested on Friday, June 30th. "Last month" would be accurate.) When they got it wrong on Tuesday, that wasn't one of the included highlights and the program was already the object of so many e-mails that I really wasn't in the mood for it.

But the e-mails never came in on that. They have gotten it wrong (first when Wong did, they've continued to be wrong whereas the Times has issued a correction). (Again, they aren't the only ones getting it wrong.) (As far as I know the Times has been the only one to correct it.) (If the program corrected it yesterday, I don't know. I was on the road out of state to speak at a college and didn't catch it. I thought I'd listen and read the e-mails while I did but the e-mails and the program weren't going to mesh so I turned off the radio.)


As usual, Rebecca says what everyone's thinking but is afraid to voice. I haven't read her post (and probably won't since I'm mentioned it) but I have heard about it repeatedly. "That's what I was afraid of" was the basic sentiment of many phone calls this morning from young activists who've been working on the immigration issue -- how a mass exodus to Mexico to protest the election will play into the right-wing's hands on the immigration issue?

It's a valid fear. The flag non-issue was used to tar and smear many and to question how 'dedicated' they were to the United States. If there's a mass exodus, the right will have a field day. (I heard, on the radio, that they were expecting, quote, "millions.") The best thing for the immigration issue was no legislation from the current Congress. There's no legislation that's helpful to immigrants. Bully Boy's taken to the road to try to get the ball rolling (which the activism stopped) and there are dog & pony show discussions going on throughout the country.
There's a natural fear in some areas of the country (stoked by many) where immigration may not be an obvious issue. Good people, who would otherwise be welcoming and supportive, can have their fear factors stoked. Rebecca noted the elephant in the room.

I didn't listen to yesterday's show but would assume that with Palast (as opposed to blow hards) as the guest, it was a discussion of what his investigating had turned up. But there was no excuse for the Zapatistas being Ralph Nadered the week prior.

I've written about that here at length so I think my feelings on the damage that does has already been covered.

(One phone call said Rebecca wrote of an episode from 2004. I had a question on that and the caller didn't remember it being in there. If she covered it, she and I have never spoken of that segment, it didn't stand out so let me make the point here. The guest brought on to 'debate' should not have been allowed on the program at all. When you trash Pacifica in a well known 'journalistic' article that refers to 'crackpots,' you're off that radio network -- my opinion. It doesn't matter what organization you're with or not with. You're off the air. He should never have been on as a guest. The fact that he trashed the network for precisely the sort of show Goodman was attempting to do should have precluded him from being offered up in a 'debate.' Others could have been brought in as the opposing guest if a debate was wanted. Including one who was just on the show in May or June discussing Plamegate.)

Am I offended that others are writing of it?

Why would I be? Those are their sites. I did read Mike's entry because I know how much the program meant to him and how much he had not said last week (with the hope that it would improve). Everyone's writing in their own voices, their own truths. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't think, as a visitor fears, it's 'fed into' a mood. The mood was there all last week when everyone was avoiding the issue. The mood was there the week prior when Rebecca was very vocal about how poor she felt the Gaza coverage was. (Mike phoned this morning while I was in the shower. If Tony or Nina reads this before class -- Mike's at work and I'm not going to bother him at work -- he doesn't owe me any apology. He felt strongly on the issue. I knew that. I knew it sent him into a tailspin of deep depression last week. I wasn't surprised by how strong his feelings were about the program or how he expressed those feelings. No apologies necessary. I'll call him this evening but if Tony or Nina can pass that on before he goes into class, it would be appreciated.)

What's up with the show?

Ask the program. I have no idea. I'm not a part of the program. Charlie feels it's sliding into Larry King Live territory. If that's true, it may have to do with someone spreading themselves very thin. Speeches, events and a daily show take a toll. A critic in The New Yorker, shortly after the televised immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, wrote of various anchors that we didn't need to know so much about them or see so much of them outside of their programs. Whether you agree with that or not, that's not really an option for Democracy Now! which doesn't have a big network advertising budget. Word of mouth is very important for that show's health. That the primary host has been so willing to travel around the country and around the world speaks to dedication and a belief in the program.

But at some point, a break is needed and, I'll offer my personal opinion, when a death that effects you tremendously happens, you need to take the time needed. That's a lesson I learned the hard way. (Elaine would say I never really dealt with, only with getting through it. Which may be true.)

Everything will have a natural up and down cycle. I don't think it's a leap to say the program's been on the down cycle of late. That may be due to the above (it may not be) or it may be due to losing some valued staff (and I'm sure the new staff will excell at their jobs when given the time to develop their own strengths -- at which point the show will be on an up cycle).

I think the primary host works very hard.

The site

I had no idea on that. I've stated before I had no idea why they were pushing what was basically a "2 cool 2 be 4-gotten" yearbook entry in their daily e-mail. I don't think it plays well. I know it hasn't played well with this community from the e-mails. I also know if Rebecca's former mother-in-law is saying that it's tainting the host as a "social climber" by association, that's not a good thing. (Consider the woman the Anthony Kennedy of the Court. That's the justice you might be able to sway. If you can't sway her, you're case doesn't stand a chance.)

I know that site is not a site that members care for. I know various reasons for that. We had a prankster, as most members of any length will remember, who added it and Atrios to our links on the left. Sometimes with the names visible, sometimes hidden under another title. I didn't care for the site. When we finally got that settled I explained in an e-mail to the prankster that I would stop this site before I'd promote a site where women were leaving because they felt they'd been dismissed, mocked and ridiculed. The agreement we worked out was that Atrios would stay. (I've never visited that site and no one's ever complained that it's host is sexist or dismissive.)

Along with the association to the social climber there's another association that it has to another site. That's come up a great deal in the e-mails.

I really don't have much to say on that.

And just deleted a long passage on it. I'd prefer that we not talk about it here. If we were promoting the site, it would be different. A joint-entry led some to believe we would talk about it here. I asked for a contribution and that was what I was sent. Jess saw it in the e-mails on Sunday. I had a problem with it in terms of the fact that it really wasn't something I was wanting to become a main topic here. But I asked if there was something that was worth linking to.

We had a long discussion on that (over two days). At one point, Jim said, "Let's make it a Third Estate Sunday Review News Round Up and whomever wants to bring it up, can." (If someone wants to cover the issue, they can. That's their right.) Jim had a good suggestion but since it wasn't about legal issues and since it was a joint-entry (and since we were all sick of talking about and needed to get the damn thing done so we could get on with our own 4th), I said we'd do it as an entry. It was thought that, due to the scope, we'd put it in a technology update and I think it worked out well within that context. But that's the extent of it here.

If we were linking to the site, it would be one thing. We're not. (We did link to something at Third in the Casey Junior post. It has been noted here at some point. Other than that, I'm aware of no link.)

E-mails are raising the association of the program to a site associated with the one we're avoding. That goes to the fact that you have to be careful with what you're seen as endorsing.
I noted that in a long entry at the mirror site that I never got around to cross-posting here. I noted that we'd recently linked to something and, as with an earlier writer linked to, there was more than most knew. When that comes up, we stop linking to that writer. Friends are very good about saying, "Wait. You don't want to link to them and here's why."

For some people, that's put the program's credibility in question. That's why you're careful about your associations. On what we're not going to talk about (in terms of legal), I will note that a lot of people, sites, orgs, that continue that association are being questioned so it's a bit much for the program to plead ignorance if they wanted to try that tactic.

The person's basically under a gag order. At some point, when it's lifted, there may be a good reason for it or there may be a chance at redeeming. But right now, a lot of people are blowing their credibility. Why the program wants to risk their own is beyond me.

But it wasn't just that, it was a series of events. Last week, I continued linking in entries. I won't do that anymore. I'm not Bully Boy. The community has turned on the show. It's the number one topic in e-mails and has been since the Gaza issue/coverage. Marcia no longer wants her name mentioned. (She came up with the catch phrase "always worth watching" in 2004 which became "always informing you" in 2006 because not everyone who follows the program watches it.) That's her right. Marcia was as big a supporter of the program as Mike and if they've lost her, they've lost the community. She was a listener before it ever entered into other forms.

They've also lost Franciso, Miguel and Maria. Last week, Miguel was supposed to do the highlights. He e-mailed that, due to the Zapatista "slams and dismissals" he wasn't comfortable noting it. I understood that and called Maria. She was even more vocal about why she wouldn't do it. Francisco did it as a favor to me. I appreciate that. But I spent all last week trying to do damage control on the show. I'm tired of that. When Maria phoned yesterday and told me that they had all three decided to no longer do it, I told her I understood. I do.

The community's turned against the show. It didn't help that a youth movement, which was how the immigration rallies began, was largely covered via older adults as guests. It didn't help that (and this was the most complaints we ever got about the program until recently) a mainstream media type was brought on to share his mainstream observations and wasn't questioned but allowed to be 'just one of us' (Francisco said that). The fact that he was speaking of one rally in particular -- one in an area so many members are from and that those members saw him, before he ever came on the show, as a lap dog and not a brave voice -- didn't help.

(I have no idea what Ruth's doing on her upcoming report. I saw Tracey's comment in Mike's entry and that was the first I knew of it. It's her space and she can do whatever she wants in her report.)

Thomas Friedman's rant against Hugo Chavez didn't help.

It's been a snow ball building for some time now. My preference would be to note it. I am not the community. I am one member. The community is very clear on this so we won't note it anymore. If something changes, it changes. I don't see it changing. (And this entry isn't an attempt to change anything. Only to stop the e-mails so we can focus on more important things.)

Two Sundays ago, Mike did a column for Polly's Brew (his first column) where he noted who was informed of Nancy A. Youssef's article (that the US was keeping body counts). All those sites on that list were put on a hold in terms of noting. If a member went to the trouble of contacting someone and asking for coverage and the coverage didn't come, that says something. The only exception I allowed was Democracy Now! That may have intensified the anger towards the program.

I'd prefer not to take down the link but if, in a few month's time, that is the feeling of the community, we will. We have the online, latter day Dylan up for his archives and hopefully we can keep this link up for the same reason if no other. If not, so be it.

I did defend the program last week. It did no good. I'm one member only and the feeling of the community is quite clear. So we won't be noting it anymore.

I don't see that changing. The opinion has hardened. I haven't read Wally's entry. I ended up being asked if I'd speak to two other groups yesterday and was running way behind. When I was done, I called Wally and apologized for the lateness of the call. He said he'd already posted and asked that I not read it. (Which I honored.) [and Wally of The Daily Jot to give him his link but avoid going to the site -- I copy and pasted that from Third -- because if I go, I might be tempted to read the entry he asked me not to.]

I know he's upset. I know Mike is a very passionate person. I know Wally's a more detached personality. It's not one member or a small group that feels the program's lost it. Wally was upset with it (and most media) only once before. When the hurricane in Florida (which left many without electricity for around a month but the news media wasn't too interested in that), it was very personal to him. It effected his friends, his family and especially his grandfather. I think the media missed a wonderful opportunity to underscore how there is no "homeland security" and how the lack of response to Katrina wasn't a rogue happening. If, after Katrina and all the "never again"s, a milder hurricane, by comparison, can result in what a number of people in Florida experienced, it demonstrates that the current administration has no 'game plan,' has no interest in formulating one and that when something awful happens (natural or human made), all the money poured in on "homeland security" has been wasted.

Wally was very upset about that and it's the only time I've know him to be that upset (I understand completely why he was so upset). When he would discuss it and note how little media attention it was receiving, I was tempted to suggest he request coverage. Tie a happy bow around it and say, "Here's what to do." Instead, I just provided an ear (which was all he wanted). But, as Mike's first column demonstrated, requesting coverage doesn't make a difference.

Aaron Glantz and Nancy A. Youssef were among the few who even bothered to note that the US was keeping body counts. "We don't do body counts" has been repeated over and over. They have been doing them. For at least a year. That wasn't news to people. Even when members attempted to make it news. That Democracy Now!, which has often had Youssef on as a guest, was among those who were contacted about the story but still refused to note it is really sad.

That added into the turning. But I think what it comes down is too many guests who you wonder, "Why are they on?" Then, as you watch, they're allowed to say whatever they want. Little of which gets questioned (Friedman's rant on Chavez resulted in no comment -- a win for him, he gets to come onto a popular show and slam Chavez and there's no follow up to it). That's been happening too often. We criticize it in the mainstream media, we need to criticize in the non-mainstream.

So for that and the other reasons listed in this entry, we're no longer noting it.

Personally, I'm trying to see the positive. There are too many mistakes being made. There's too much that we can't note for that reason. (I'm referring to facts.) It's also not fair to hold the Times to one standard and the program to another. I can argue, we'll this isn't the X draft, but live coverage. That explains on air goofs that everything on air will make. But to repeatedly get something wrong (example, when Green was arrested) is just not a mistake that I can explain away.

I was hoping to not write this entry and, honestly, am rather depressed. It's obvious, I'm sure, that I'd prefer to continue to note the program. (That's not asking for a series of, "Okay, C.I., we can keep noting the program." The decision's been made.) I think it does much good and hope it's just been on a down cycle of late.

If the "Iraq snapshot" isn't noted this afternoon, it will be this evening. I'm depressed and crawling into bed on that note. Correction, Blogger/Blogspot now has a message up about an outage later today. I have no idea how long that will last. If you don't see something here, check the mirror site. The start time is also when many of the community evening sites post so I have no idea what will happen there. (All can use the mirror site if they'd like.)

The e-mail address for this site is