Saturday, April 16, 2005

Saturday's New York Times -- Rudith Miller, where are you?

On the front page of the Times, you learn that "Stocks Plunge to Lowest Point Since Election." This continues the reporting that Jonathan Fuerbringer did yesterday in the Business section of the Times (and we noted his article yesterday). From this morning's article:

Stocks tumbled to their lowest levels since the presidential election yesterday, extending a recent slump that has come amid fears that economic growth is slowing.
The sell-off yesterday was ignited by surprisingly weak earnings from
I.B.M., and steepened throughout the day. It was the worst single day for the market this year and capped the worst week since August.


Well I guess I slept through the final vote on Negoponte because on A28, Scott Shane tells me about "how difficult the challenge awaiting John D. Negroponte, the veteran diplomat chosen by Mr. Bush as the first director of national intelligence" is (in "Panel Rebukes C.I.A. and F.B.I. for Shortcomings in October"). Has Negroponte been confirmed?

No, he hasn't, the Senate has yet to vote (he has passed the committee). And whomever is responsible for writing that sentence should have reworked it. Put it into sports, the only thing the Times seems to grasp (well sports analogies anyway), a story this spring that contained a sentence such as "winning eight gold medals at the Olympics will provide all sorts of new challenges for Michael Phelps as he attempts to return to normal life after the Olympics." The predictions belong in the horiscopes. Negroponte's not yet confirmed. Currently, nothing awaits Negroponte other than a vote in the Senate. If confirmed, he will then have things awaiting him.

(I truly hate it when sentences like that make it into the paper because my first thought is always, "Wow, I missed that." Then I raise an eyebrow but assume the writer must know what they're talking about. Then I have to do research. Get the sentences correct from the start and spare readers this hassle.)

From yesterday's Democracy Now!:

Negroponte Confirmed By Senate Committee
Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee has put the man who coordinated the bloody Contra War of the 1980s one step closer to being in charge of US intelligence gathering. John Negroponte was approved yesterday in a closed-door vote, clearing the way for the full Senate to vote on his nomination as the country's first Director of national Intelligence. The Committee also approved Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden as deputy director.

Now let's note Eric Lichtblau's article on page A6, similar problem. Whomever wrote the headline (reporters don't write the headlines) needs a talking to. "Afghan Trips Over Rules He Upheld to U.S. Senate." That is not based on Lichtblau's reporting. "Afghan Allegedly Trips Over Rules He Upheld to U.S. Senate" or "Afghan May Have Tripped Over Rules He Upheld to U.S. Senate" fit the story. Last time I checked, a jury of one's peers was not composed solely of one one headline writer for the Times. Perhaps the headline writer was predicting how the case would turn out? At this point, the man has been charged, he has not been tried and the headline's wording is incorrect.

A5 has Douglas Jehl's "Bolton's Pressure on C.I.A. Analyst Angered Colleagues" which Krista e-mails to call our attention to. From the article:

An attempt in 2002 by John R. Bolton to remove the national intelligence officer for Latin America from his post prompted John E. McLaughlin, the deputy director of central intelligence, to intervene against the request, according to current and former intelligence officials.
Mr. McLaughlin's previously undisclosed role is being reviewed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as it considers the nomination of Mr. Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations. In testimony last week, Mr. Bolton acknowledged that he had sought to have the intelligence officer, Fulton T. Armstrong, reassigned.
The incident is one of at least three being reviewed by the committee in which Mr. Bolton sought the removal of subordinates or intelligence officials during his time as an under secretary of state. Senate Democrats who oppose Mr. Bolton's nomination intend to highlight the infighting as an indication that Mr. Bolton's actions toward subordinates were inappropriate enough to require action by other senior officials.

Also on A5, Judith Miller continues her grudge f*ck against the UN with "Swiss Investigates Possibilty of Bribery in U.N. Contract." When Judith goes scoop, nothing goes right . . .

(Sorry, Eli.)

Cedric asks, "Where is Rudith Miller when we need her?" Last I heard, she was on the run from a crazed Judith Miller determined to silence her. ("Rudith Miller" was a humorous spoof of Judith Miller many months ago and so Judith Miller attempting to silence her or track her down is a joke. For the record, to the best of my knowledge, Judith Miller doesn't attempt to physically track down anything except when commanding military units in Iraq. Unsuccessfully.)

Lynda e-mails to note Anne E. Kornblut's "Inquiry Finds Radio Host's Arrangement Raised Flags:"

Officials at the Education Department expressed concerns about a contract with the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams last year, even bringing it to the attention of a White House policy adviser when it came up for renewal, according to an internal department report released on Friday.
The report, by the department's inspector general, found no evidence of unlawful or unethical behavior in connection with Mr. Williams's contract but criticized top department officials for "poor management decisions" and lax oversight.
"As a result," it said, "the department paid for work that most likely did not reach its intended audience and paid for deliverables that were never received."
The report did not address questions about whether hiring Mr. Williams to promote President Bush's signature education initiative amounted to covert propaganda.

Billie e-mails to note David D. Kirkpatrick and Carl Hulse's "Frist Accused of Exploiting Religion Issue:"

Democratic senators accused Senator Bill Frist, the Republican majority leader, of exploiting religion for partisan ends by taking part in a telecast portraying them as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's judicial nominations.
"Our debate over the rules of the Senate and the use of the filibuster has nothing to do with whether one is religious or not," Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said at a news conference with Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader from Nevada. "I cannot imagine that God - with everything he has or she has to worry about - is going to take the time to debate the filibuster in heaven."

Hulse and Kirkpatrick may have an early case of Saturday Night Fever (or Sunday Morning Stupors -- see "Clubbing With the New York Times") because their article compares Frist's infomerical to speeches by John Kerry delivered in churches. (They quote a person doing the comparison and they let it stand without challenge so I think it's fair to say that they compare the two.) Frist isn't making a speech. He's doing an infomercial. (And showboating on religion which I didn't think God was for, but I'm not able to diagnose anyone's health via videotape, so presumably we must defer to Saint Frist of All Things Small and Petty.) There is a difference. I don't recall anyone criticizing John Kerry for making speeches in churches (perhaps they should have, perhaps they shouldn't have) or, for that matter, George W. Bush (presumably, the Bully Boy's supporters were just glad Bully Boy had finally drug himself into a church, even if he did have to borrow money for the collection plate on at least one church visit after the campaign).

To cast the filibuster as a God vs. the ungodly seems far different than anything Kerry or the Bully Boy, on those rare times the Bully Boy made it into church, said in church during the
presidential campaign. My opinion. As always, I could be wrong. (And admittedly, feel-good stories such as those "reporting from ____ church, this reporter" articles always put me to sleep.) But if Saint Frist is setting himself up for a career change to a tele-evanglist, more power to him, and Godspeed, Saint Frist, Godspeed. Any route that takes you from the Senate and out of politics, Godspeed.*

In National Briefing, Albert Salvato does what should always be done when reporting on statutory rape, he actually tells us the consent age in Ohio. So let's note that and credit him for that.

I also wanted to comment and criticize the Times on their "corrections" (positive criticism as well as negative criticism) but I'm frankly too tired. Put it on the "later today list" along with Luke (wotisitgood4), A Winding Road and other items that have been waiting. And remember this is Saturday, a day when I help The Third Estate Sunday Review. So don't be surprised if the "later today list" ends up not happening today.

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*I'm going by Webster's "Godspeed." Some sources utlizie "God speed" and that might be the correct form. But after searching it online and finding it in various forms, I pulled down Webster's and will let them have the final say.