Friday, September 09, 2011

Those 'men' of The Nation magazine and their tired retreads

Heaven save us all from the media critics that think the work required ended around 2003. I hate stupid almost as much as I hate lazy. Let's start with Greggers apparently reeling from another pot-induced high, Greg Mitchell realizes he bit off more than he could chew and "updated" his column -- with "Updated" in the title -- to make a few changes -- none of which are documented in any notes to the column -- including the fact that he promised he'd return to the topic with another column on Thursday. That promise gets dropped and forgotten. But, hey, if he had any real drive, Editor & Publisher wouldn't have been run into the ground under his 'leadership,' now would it?

Now Greg works in the beggar media -- where all the failed and failures run to. I guess when your actual work isn't considered to have any market value, you just stand on the street corner and beg and beg and beg and beg some more.

"Send us money! We're doing wonderful work! Look at me Greg Mitchell! Live blogging WikiLeaks!"

Every time he insists he's live blogging WikiLeaks I feel like I'm seeing an elderly man attempting to act 'hip' and 'with it' by saying, "You kids like the rap, right? You down with Tone Loc, right? He's all the rage now, right?"

Can no one explain to the old fool that live blogging is something you do, for example, from a courtroom or during a speech. Or look at Katharine Q. Seelye's strong live blogging for the New York Times during the 2004 presidential debates. That is live blogging an event.

Writing every day about press coverage of an issue isn't live blogging.

Yes, Greg Mitchell, you are alive and you are blogging. But "live blogging" has its own requirements and you've yet to meet them despite your ridiculous claims.

A friend at The Nation called late yesterday -- shortly after I finished dictating the snapshot -- and asked why I was on a tear against The Nation? I said to read the snapshot when it went up because it had more on The Nation. Then I explained that I couldn't believe that the crap repeated on the Sunday chat & chews now showed up in text form at The Nation. Its had highs and lows, peaks and valleys before, but the magazine has never been as useless or as trashy as it is today. The circulation has rightly crashed -- look for Greggers and others on street corners with donation cans shortly -- and they've betrayed everything they supposedly stood for.

As if their repeating of stale talking points wasn't bad enough, grasp that Greg Mitchell boasts in his Wednesday column that this is just part one and that part two is coming tomorrow and then, apparently, spends most of Thursday doing bong hits before deciding, "I'll remove my promise from the column and call it an 'update'." No wonder he can't get work at a real outlet.

The Nation's AlterPunkyBrewster emerges from beneath his rock as well. It's been years since we last walked in the wasteland that is Eric Alterman's thinking cap (see Elaine, Rebecca and my "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" from July 2006 -- a reply to Eric Alterman's bullying e-mail to Elaine). I can't remember now, had he already been dropped from the only real outlet that carried his work?

I do remember his public raging over being dropped by MSNBC.

Why should they traffic in his garbage?

When not attacking Noam Chomsky and others who qualify as his "betters," little Alter Punky likes to pretend he's a media critic just like Greg Mitchell.

They're both frauds and fakes.

In fact, if Eric Alterman is remembered in 20 years for anything other than announcing his official conversion to the right wing, it will be for his attack on Noam and, no, it won't be applauded, it'll be another example of Eric's attempt to prove he's better than everyone else that only demonstrated that he suffers from some cognition failure.

Eric and Greg share so many traits you sort of picture them circling one another on all fours and sniffing each other's ass.

One of their big traits -- which makes them so perfect for The Nation magazine -- a sexist institution that ran 491 male bylines in 2006 and only 149 female bylines -- is that they hate women while pretending otherwise. The absence of women from their praise circles is always the hallmark of their work.

On those rare times when the sunken chest boys do utter a woman's name, it's to trash her. So Judith Miller pops up and, in Eric's piece, he mentions Peggy Noonan and a woman I've never heard of (which doesn't mean she's not important to the right, just that I haven't obsessed over her the way Eric Alterman clearly has). Both men have published repeatedly on the topic of who was in right in 2002 and 2003 and both men have repeatedly failed to notice the women who were right. But if they couldn't make it an all boys club, then they probably wouldn't be members, right? I mean if membership required actual qualifications and not just gender identifcation, neither one of these embarrasing 'men' would make the cut, would they?

At American Progress, Eric wants to rage against Bill Keller as well.

Is it the anniversary of the Iraq War?

I mean, I'm busy with an actual life and actual work to end the Iraq War so maybe I got confused about the month or year. But I thought the Iraq War started in March 2003. And, generally speaking, the garbage that Greg and Eric have trotted out only shows up at that time of the year. You know, when writers feel shamed into it, feel they have to churn out something on Iraq? They haven't paid attention enough to the ongoing war to have a fresh thought or insight, so it just drop back to the overtilled ground of 2002 and 2003.

I'm sick to death of their little Golden Book 'history' lessons. Reality, Bill Keller didn't campaign for the US Congress in 2006. Reality, Bill Keller didn't say, "Give me control of just one house of Congress and I'll end the Iraq War."

I'm sorry, I'm just not interested in repeated columns pretending to address the Iraq War that do nothing but obssess over the lead up to the Iraq War. I know what it was like. Unlike the sunken chest boys, I was out on the road before the war started speaking out to college groups about the war. I faced the jeering, I faced the booing, I faced the charges of not being aware or of not caring enough about Iraq or whatever other crap they wanted to throw your way. And I did so outside of the fishbowl that is NYC. I faced down the detractors and the idolation of the Bully Boy Bush (just as in 2009 and 2010, I faced down the Cult of St. Barack).

I don't and haven't seen the need to drop back to 2002 and 2003 and scream, "I was right!" But that's all Greg Mitchell and Eric Alterman have to offer when it comes to supposedly writing about Iraq.

It's an ongoing, illegal war. And supposedly both 'men' are media critics. And never has Iraq received so little attention from the press. But all these two 'men' can offer us, in 2011, is a look back at 2002 and 2003 and cries of "I was right!"

And their 'writing' exists to pimp the lie that the Iraq War goes on today because of the roll out in 2002 and early 2003. That's not why.

There was nothing to prevent John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Party's presidential nominee, from robustly denouncing the Iraq War. Instead, we got "John Kerry, reporting for duty." And in that pompous moment, pay attention, that's how the GOP was able to disgrace him and tear apart his military record. He looked like such a fool, such a wooden fool. And I know John but that's reality deal with it. There was nothing to prevent the ending of the Iraq War in 2007. That's when, following the 2006 mid-terms, Democrats now controlled both houses of Congress. Voters put them in charge of both houses and the party failed to do a damn thing.

Nancy Pelsosi (who I know and who does represent my district) is correct that Harry Reid in the Senate ensured that none of the attempts by the House got very far. But she's incorrect when she claims that's all she could have done as Speaker of the House. All they ever had to do was cut off funding. Didn't even take a majority for that, just took a filibuster. Former US Senator Mike Gravel went around schooling the nation on that in 2007 and 2008.

There were other things that could have been done. With control of both houses of Congress, their could have been public hearings on the lies of the administration. Democrats didn't want to do that either. Excuse me, elected Democrats didn't do it because Congressional Democratic leaders didn't want to do it, fearful that it might hurt 2008 election prospects. Democratic voters strongly favored hearings and, yes, impeachment of Bush.

Maybe on November 7th, Greg and Eric can write about that?

Of course, they won't. They work for The Nation where never a discouraging word is heard that holds the Democratic Party accountable.

The Nation that decries Abu Ghraib -- or did when George W. Bush occupied the White House -- and the 'few bad apples' theory makes it a point to repeatedly tell you the problems today within the Democratic Party are just a few bad apples. Really?

The billions that the 2012 election will cost is a few bad apples? Barack killing off public financing in 2008 (becoming the first post-Watergate presidential candidate for one of the two major parties to turn down public financing in the general election) is a few bad apples?

It's not the whole damn tree, it's not the whole damn system?

Oh, good. If it's just a few bad apples, The Nation can keep telling us that and we can work real hard -- like in 2006 with Joe Lieberman? -- to get them out of the Democratic Party and then all will be right in the land.

That is what is so offensive about the crap that oozes out of the heads of Greg and Eric. It's nonsense, it's distraction.

With little help from The Nation magazine, the American public woke up in 2005 and turned firmly against the Iraq War. Give credit to Cindy Sheehan for her strong work on that -- though The Nation didn't. They largely ignored her (one cover story when all the media was covering Cindy does translate as ignoring). And then remember what happened? Cindy ran against Nancy Pelosi in 2008 because the Democrats refused to live up to the 2006 mid-term campaign promise of ending the Iraq War.

The Nation, briefly courting the anti-war camp that was rising up around the country, had done an editorial -- a poorly written one, granted, but they don't really have writers at that magazine -- saying that they wouldn't vote for any candidate who wasn't for ending the Iraq War. They were so proud of that editorial that they put the opening of it on their cover. No photo, just text.

But that was then. Once Dems were in power in 2007, that editorial was forgotten. And when Cindy took the spirit of that editorial and decided to run for Congress to hold Nancy accountable, what was the reaction from The Nation?

Well, for one thing, Katha Pollitt finally mentioned Cindy Sheehan.

Katha's a damn liar. She's on Journolist telling everyone how formidable Sarah Palin is (after Palin gives her speech at the GOP convention in 2008) but this columnist, this opinion writer, never shares that opinion with the audience she's paid to share with. What a damn liar.

And there she was in 2008 attacking Cindy. But telling you (lying) that she was a huge fan of Cindy's, a huge supporter, and thought Cindy had done great work. She had a monthly column in the magazine and an online blog at the magazine (as well as her own blog) and yet she'd never written about Cindy before. In the summer of 2005, there was no great media story than Cindy. But Katha never found time. 'Feminist' Katha never found time in three years to write about Cindy Sheehan, a working class woman who became a national leader. A 'feminist' never found time to write about this woman.

But there was Katha in 2008, finally writing about Cindy for the first time, in order to attack her for deciding to run for Congress (specifically for running against Nancy).

[Added 9-11-2011: Word drifts back from The Nation that Katha is enraged by the above and has caught me in an error -- her attack on Cindy was in August 2007, not 2008. I stand corrected. Thank you to Katha Pollitt for catching that error. And my apologies for the error.]

You really think The Nation magazine has any ethics?


I believe it's Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign (could be the 1984, I try to block out all things Reagan -- as Bette Davis used to say, "He was a lousy actor and he's a worse president.") that FAIR and other media critics like to go to town on George Will for. It was 1980. And George Will prepped Ronald Reagan pre-debate and then went on ABC where he praised Reagan's performance and didn't reveal that he'd prepped Reagan.

Myself, I find that to be a huge ethical violation.

But in 2009, I didn't add Melissa LieFace Harris-Lacewell-Perry to my staff. The Nation magazine did. LieFace started working for Barack's campaign in 2007. LieFace went on The Charlie Rose Show in 2008 and 'forgot' to disclose that she was working for a campaign. She was part of a panel of journalists (though she herself was not a journalist) and presented as an analyst not affiliated with any campaign. She made two appearances on Democracy Now! in January 2008. On the first, she was just an analyst in New Hampshire. One who just happened to praise Barack's speech like crazy. It was only the next week, while enraged at her own White parent (that she was then hiding) and snarling at Gloria Steinem that LieFace let it slip that she was working for Barack's campaign.

Those are disclosures. You are supposed to make them. If we believe in ethics, if we're not just trying to score points against George Will and work the refs, then we call out Melissa LieFace Harris-Lacewell-Perry-Whatever It Is Two Years From Now. But The Nation magazine didn't call her out. In 2009, they hired her. Because ethics don't matter. (For more on that, for helping Barack write a speech and then showing up at The Huffington Post to praise that speech the day after it's delivered while 'forgetting' to disclose you helped write the speech, see "Emory University, address your ethics problem.")

Greg and Eric write about Iraq this week not because they give a damn about the issue (if they cared about the Iraq War, they'd cover it and they wouldn't have to drop back to 2002 and 2003 to write about it) but because they want to take on Bill Keller. Neither is up for the job and that's why they are in Panhandle Media as opposed to at a real outlet.

Bill Keller's never going to take accountability for what he did. That's part of what makes Bill Keller so sad. He's unable to grow, he's unable to learn from any experience. It's sad. But grandstanding on a topic you don't even give a damn about is pretty pathetic as well.

Considering that both Greg and Eric have ignored the Iraqi protests all these months, they must think their audience is pretty stupid to show up this week with their bad pieces supposedly on Iraq. A war's going on, an illegal war. It hasn't ended, just the interest of elements of the faux left. In March each year, I can usually ignore the bad writing and accept that bad writers are dusting off their yearly Iraq War pieces. In September when protests are starting back up in Iraq, when Barack Obama is trying to extend the Iraq War, when the country remains open to the threat of a pandemic, when big oil believes it's finally moving in to Iraq, when journalists opposed to Nouri are targeted and assassinated, I'm not really in the mood for a bunch of little boys to tell me how brave they were eight years ago.

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