Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Strobel practices reporting, NPR self-embarrasses

While Obama, who spoke with Barzani for 10 minutes, according to the White House, helped stave off another political crisis, their intervention raises anew questions about whether Iraqis can find consensus without constant prodding from outside.

That's from Warren P. Strobel's "Obama, Biden phoned Kurds to press Iraq election deal" (McClatchy Newspapers) and hopefully he (and others) will continue to press on this issue because a deal was made and the public has a right to know what it was, not the vague statements that are that the public record has currently. On the above, no, Barack did not 'heal' the deal. Barack was barely involved -- as has been pointed out here since Sunday -- in talking to the KRG. It was Joe Biden. If that first layer of fluff can be stripped away, maybe the press can get to what the US government has promised the KRG and then to how the US government plans to deliver on that promise (of if they do). On the topic of the Kurds, yesterday's snapshot includes this: "The Bush administration repeatedly broke key promises -- the PKK issue is what forever broke the trust the KRG had in the Bush administration." Brent e-mailed to ask if I meant Turkey? No. The KRG wants to be an independent Kurdish nation-state. That's their ultimate goal. The PKK has a similar ultimate goal. The two differ as how to best get there. But the KRG has allowed the PKK to remain in their region and that's always been the case. It's why so many reporters (including Deborah Haynes of the Times of London) have been able to visit the PKK camps in the KRG. They aren't hidden from the area's government. Promises were made to the KRG regarding the status of the PKK, promises that were never followed up on. This matters in regards to the current deal because Turkey and the KRG were promised two different things regarding the PKK (promised by the US government) in the lead-up to the Iraq War. Turkey pissed off the Bush administration, so they didn't rush to make good on their promise to them. (Which is why Turkey had to repeatedly complain about the PKK and was told, repeatedly, it would be dealt with but it never was addressed until Turkey began their bombing missions -- officially began.) Most people know what Turkey wanted: do away with the PKK. But the KRG and the PKK have similar final aims but different methods. The two were not in great conflict especially when there were promises to the KRG from the US that the status of the PKK might be downgraded.

So Strobel's attempting to report in a world overcome with fluff. In a brief moment during today's overly long Morning Edition on NPR, Corey Flintoff did his new headlines and noted, among other things, the over 100 dead in Baghdad today (see next entry). To get to that reality, you had to wade through a ton of crap.

That was not just true of the worst segment but the worst segment clearly told the story. Hosts Renee Montagne and Steve Inskeep had a 'chat' -- try to remember that Morning Edition is a public affairs program and wrongly seen as a news program but it is not supposed to be The View -- with Tina Brown. I know Tina, she's really not the problem (although if she were asked to disclose any ties she had with any of the people she was commenting on, she either didn't disclose or NPR waived her on through regardless). Tina's a gossip, she's always been a gossip. Her The Daily Beast would be better called The Daily Dish. It's Suzy if Suzy wanted to be more tawdry and 'updating' continuously.

I didn't ask a public affairs program to disgrace itself by bringing on a gossip. They chose to do it and they pride themselves on 'journalistic standards' so they damn well better approach any segment they do with journalistic standards. Tina can say any outrageous thing she wants -- and has built a career doing just that (an incredible career, I like Tina). But Steve and Renee are always supposed to be NPR professionals.

So when Tina's advocating that male celebrities who are married stop sleeping with fans and groupies and instead sleep with prostitutes, Steve and Renee to pipe up. As Tina outlined how the 'code' would protect the men, neither Steve or Renee raised any ugly realities about prostitution or, pay attention, even the fact that prostitution (outside of Nevada) is illegal.

That's a glaring and appalling failure and someone better tell Steve and Renee that they aren't hosting Access Hollywood and they better grasp real damn quick that you cannot wallow in the trash and then still try to hide behind "I'm a journalist." As outrageous as that was, the segment was entitled "Celebrities Behaving Badly" and the hook was supposed to be a recent increase of celebrities doing just that. A rise, the audience was wrongly told, in bad behaviors.

The first example is a sports star I have no interest in writing about. The issues belong to the couple and, yes, the ever increasing number of women he had affairs with. I'm not interested. But it is 'current.' It may be one example of 'celebrities behaving badly.' Tina offered three examples.

The second is a director I've ignored here. I'll continue to ignore him here except to say that when you're charged with rape in the 70s and that's what you're still wanted on, that's not 'new' nor does it prove the thesis Tina (and NPR) is supposedly pushing. Tina's already advocated for married men to break the law and sleep with prostitutes (one wonders how she'd respond should Harold take up that suggestion?). So, no surprise, any real issues about the second case weren't raised, certainly not legal issues. But she did plug Jeffery Toobin's embarrassing Madame Cleo piece in The New Yorker (Toobin did not speak to the judge -- despite an article that 'knows' just what the judge was thinking, 'knows' the judge was angry, outraged and apparently jealous) which also is light on the legal and long on the gossip. So we've got two celebrities and one is facing decades old charges which doesn't really play into the theme of a 'rise of celebrities behaving badly.' (If Tina couldn't push that false theme, she'd have no career and she wouldn't deny that if you asked her.)

The third celeb? 'Celeb'? Dennis Kozlowski. If you missed it, the former head of Tyco was in NYC, at Southside, Saturday night, drunk off his ass, tearing it up, snorting coke like crazy and with two women on each arm and a man of indeterminate sexuality in his lap wearing a collar and leash -- with Big Denny holding the leash. It was all so shocking!!!!

Oh, wait, none of that happened. It didn't happen because Kozlowski is in prison. He was convicted and sentenced in 2005.

So what about that theme? A) He is not a celebrity. He's a criminal, a convicted criminal, a jury of his peers made that decision. B) He's not at all recent.

In addition, Tina wanted you to know the big problem was that people like Dennis treated the DA like the help. Uh, I kind of thought Kozlowski's big problem was misappropriation of corporate funds -- that is what a court convicted him of. Among the millions he was convicted of stealing (misappropriating)? At least one million to throw a 2001 birthday party for his wife. A party the shareholders of Tyco were stuck footing the bill for because he hid it as a "shareholder meeting." It was not. He's a thief. And to hear Renee and Steve coo to Tina's strummed violins for Kozlowski was really something.

Tina wanted to whine that he's served seven years and he should be out. Do they not teach math in England? He was sentenced in 2005. It's 2009.

Renee and Steve were where? More importantly, journalism was where?

That was a piece of crap embarrassment. And it repeatedly glorified breaking the law. Now Tina can do that. She's built her reputation for being outrageous (or what passes for it). But Renee and Steve are supposed to be journalist and they are supposed to represent the august NPR. They failed miserably and that has to be one of the lowest of the lows NPR has fallen to in this decade. And, yes, I remember the bad Iraq coverage. I'm not forgetting that. But at least during that, they tried to self-present as journalists and not as Mary Hart and Perez Hilton. At least during that, they were not knowingly advocating the breaking of US laws. That was shameful and embarrassing.

No better was the 'report' on Lady Gaga which followed. It was not a 'report.' It did not even rise to "character sketch." It was a bad, bad segment with an idiot who doesn't know the difference between the terms "rumor" and "conspiracy" so, therefore, should not be allowed to use either. Shana Naomi Krochmal, someone needs to buy you a thesaurus and, no dear, that isn't a sex toy.

Most of all, someone needs to tell her that her pauses and attempts at creating sexual obsession (that may not have been what she was going for, but it is how it came up) worked so very well for Kristen Wiig opposite Blake Lively on Saturday Night Live (click here for segment) but did so because, pay attention, Kristen was playing a journalist in a comedic sketch. You were supposed to actually be one on National Public Radio. There's a difference.

Try doing news and I'll continue to ignore you, keep up this crap and I'll call you out repeatedly. Eli Lake (Washington Times) reports that Iraqi Gen Nasier Abadi is stating "that Iraqi commanders would welcome continued training by US forces despite the withdrawal deadline set late last year." He's referring to the SOFA. The SOFA is a contract. Like any contract, it can be renegotiated. That's a detail to watch over the next two years, how many Iraqi figure heads come out advocating for soemthing similar. Lake adds:

The checkpoints in Baghdad that used to be manned by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers are now staffed exclusively by Iraqis.
However, there are signs that even the Shi'ite political parties, which were the least comfortable with an American presence, may accede to any military request for a continued U.S. training relationship. Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the powerful Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, told The Times in an interview that the U.S. Embassy had not formally raised the subject since the signing of the status-of-forces agreement and that such a decision was best left to military specialists.

Cape Coral Daily Breeze reports
that Pfc Derrick Daniel Gwaltney will have his funeral service tomorrow at two p.m. "at Coral Ridge Funeral Home, 1630 Pine Island Road, Cape Coral," that the 21-year-old died while serving in Iraq on November 29th and "Memorial donations in his memory be made to the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, IN 38105."

Meanwhile Iraq War veteran Paul Bryan is home in time for Christmas. Scott Rochat (Colorado Times-Call) quotes the wounded veteran stating, "This'll be the first Christmas I've been home with my family in about three years, now. I never had enough leave." Staying with Christmas, Catholic News Agency reports that the Chaldean Catholic nuns will be handing out "Christmas food parcles to impoverished people in the northern Iraq town of Zakho".

In legal news, Julie Sullivan (Oregonian) reports that Iraq War veteran Jessie Bratcher has been sentenced in the murder case of Jose Ceja Medina and Bratcher will be "under the supervision of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board for life." Bratcher's defense in court was PTSD for shooting Medina dead. Bratcher's fiancee had told him that Medina raped her. When confronting Medina, Bratcher shot him.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends