Monday, October 17, 2005

The Creep by Beth Keaton

C.I.: What's the alternative? "Must credit Wonkette" on every item? We're not a breaking news site. And in the end, this isn't really about whether ____ stole this time or not. This is about a whole lot more, my opinion, and _____ ,who has generously borrowed before, is on the receiving end of some members' anger.

Generously borrowed before? That's putting it mildly. Beth here, you're ombudsman. Though C.I. keeps asking me if I wouldn't prefer "ombudswoman." I'm still thinking about that. This entry is about the Creep Who's Name Shall Not Be Spoken. Normally, I put these up in the gina & krista round-robin. One reason is I hate the Blogger program. If I e-mail it to C.I., it's still a pain because everything runs together in a copy & paste from an e-mail and you have to rework the spacing. A second reason, which was C.I.'s, is that while I wasn't prevented from putting anything up here in the past, C.I. just felt it would be better if I posted at the round-robin so no one wondered, "Did Beth have to get approval on this? If so, what did she get approval to include?"

"For the record" (doing a C.I. there), I did offer to read an early version of this to C.I. but the offer was declined. C.I. did ask if I was opening with Wonkette since I had burst out laughing on that? I said I was and C.I. has something added that comes at the end. C.I. also asked that I contact everyone and make sure they grasp that their quotes were for this site and not going up in the round-robin. I did that and took out one thing after speaking to Ava because it was "a little too obvious" regarding Ava's parents (members will understand that). I'm used to writing in the round-robin and when I ask someone for a comment now, they let it all hang out. Ava wasn't aware this was for the site and not the round-robin. At her request, I did pull a sentence from her statement. Following that, I called everyone else to read them their statements and be sure they understood this was for the site and not the round-robin.

Here's where I come in. I'm on lunch, it's been a bad morning that starts with oversleeping. Though Elaine's cute enough to pull off a ponytail, they don't work for me. I'm curling my hair this morning and end up burning my forehead. (The women will understand that is a big thing and that curling irons are very, very hot.) I'm already late at this point so I pour the coffee and head out the door. I trip on the stairs and spill the coffee all over. A problem not just because it's hot but because I now have to go back in and change. Lunch rolls around and I grab the time to read The Common Ills when I find C.I.'s statement about if anyone has a problem regarding ____ they can write me. I mutter a few unprintables (round-robin readers can guess what they were) and open my e-mail.

1507 e-mails all on this topic, all coming in this morning, and they will continue to come in throughout the day. I won't lie and say I've read them all. I've read most of them. I call C.I. and after exchanging a few unpleasantries (round-robin readers can also guess what sort they were), we both laugh. I make the point that there's no way I can take all this week to deal with this and wonder if I address the subject, can it go up here?

C.I. had no problem with that and hopefully it will cut down on the e-mails. To give members who did not sign up for the round-robin (your loss) an idea of what goes on now that this is at the round-robin, one of the most obvious changes is that there are no plugs for merchandise from other organizations in C.I.'s entries. Members have their favorite sites and if C.I. plugs a DVD or book from ____, the result is that some members feel like their favorite site got overlooked. A member still can plug but due to the column I wrote that, C.I. avoids it. That's one of the reasons Ruth took last Saturday off, the furor that created among some members over "plugs" led her to decide that while Pacifica's having pledge week she wouldn't do her Ruth's Morning Edition Report.

I didn't make a "rule" on that. I addressed the concerns of a few members which revolved around that fact that they felt C.I. always plugged one site. In that column, I listed all the other sites offering items that C.I. had plugged but I did note the exact number of times C.I. had plugged products from the site that had some members upset.

Since that column went up, C.I.'s implemented the policy that here a member will have to plug a product. If C.I. knows the product, C.I. may add something to it such as "I read that book and really enjoyed it" but that's the extent of it with the exception of CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now which is available in bookstores and from CODEPINK (great book) and happens to be a book C.I. believes in. (No member ever complained about that book to me.) C.I. intends to do another entry on that today because Susan's written something about it and also because C.I. is "tired of" the conversations about The Creep.

Last Friday's column had a theme: "I am not the ombudsman at any other site." The community has a number of sites. I am only the ombudsman for The Common Ills. I did interview Rebecca, Mike and Cedric regarding questions that members had but made a point of saying that would be the last time on that. One member was upset that C.I. had plugged Ms., weeks before the column I wrote on plugs, at The Third Estate Sunday Review and I also explained that I'm not the ombudsman of The Third Estate Sunday Review. (I also offered that the discount rate for Ms. during that time period was a great subscription rate.)

In the e-mails I did read on the issue of The Creep, people were quoting C.I.'s reply to them. I asked C.I. how many e-mails got personal replies and was told there was no count kept. I think it's over a thousand based on what I've read in the e-mails sent to me. The ones that I had personally replied to had already led to replies themselves. So hopefully this will cut down on some of that.

Some members just wanted to vent. About 15% of the e-mails I've read are members who know who The Creep is (everyone does) and feel The Creep should be named. Jim (of The Third Estate Sunday Review) shares your belief. I spoke with Jim for about ten minutes on this issue. Like many members, Jim can tick off the times where The Creep has obviously borrowed (Jim uses the term "stolen") without crediting. "I would name ____," Jim says. Jim also says that at some point you realize that you're "up against a brick wall" (referring to C.I.) and that no one will be named so you "move on."

That moving on approach came late Sunday night. Jim explained to me the lack of an editorial at The Third Estate Sunday Review this Sunday and his version is echoed by Ava, Dona, Jess, Ty and Rebecca. (Elaine and Mike elected not to comment on that.) Kat's version was more or the less the same.

During the news review, which they transcribe live, member Martha wrote The Third Estate Sunday Review to say that The Creep had done it again. That quickly became an issue in the middle of Ty and C.I.'s segment of the news review. Jim made a point of noting that was distracting but that Ty and C.I. were "pros" and didn't stop to say, "What the hell is everyone talking about?" or "Could you pipe down?"

But Jim and Rebecca felt a statement should be made and wrote one with Ava which Ava reads. After Ava read that statement, C.I. made a few comments, ending with "It's nice to be read" and "Let's move on." They didn't. Dona called a break which is not something they've ever done before.

What ensued was a long discussion. C.I.'s placed it at an hour and a half but others have it longer. Jim says it was at least three hours. Most place it at two and a half hours. C.I. notes that an hour and a half was an estimate and, if others are saying it was longer, it probably was.
The whole process of turning out a new edition came to a halt and they were already running behind time due to the fact that Wally had started his new site and C.I. had talked him through that.

Dona's concern of whether the news review would go on or just end with "let's move on" was based upon the fact that it was a very loud discussion. Jess made the point to me that if it was a rip off by The Creep, and Jess feels it was, C.I. was the one ripped off and C.I. was the one who should have a final say. This wasn't a member being ripped off who could not defend her or his self with public space. Jess made that point and that pretty much ended the official discussion. But it was heated and Dona was concerned about the news review going on.

(Rebecca shared her version of that with me at length and she noted it in a briefer form Sunday at her website.)

Ty was firm in wanting this quote in my column: "That should have been the end of it." It wasn't and Ty feels that "time was wasted" on this after it should have been over.

Ava feels that the TV review she and C.I. did is "crap" and members will say, "Ava and C.I. always think that." That is true. But because of "the turmoil" Ava feels (C.I. agrees) that they wrote a very on the nose review. They saved it to draft (it did go up) with the hopes of fixing it later that evening. By this time it was no longer "early Sunday morning" (like C.I., Ava's not specific on time) and C.I. had signed up to do some volunteer work so the session for the latest edition had to stop. The plan was to meet up later that night, Ava and C.I. would rework their review and everyone would work on the editorial. (The topic of the editorial, never written, was to be Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.)

The meet up was scheduled but an earlier phone call, Jim says fifteen minutes before the meet up was to occur, ended with C.I. saying to forget it because if this topic was going to come up, Cedric and Betty's time would be wasted. (They would be on the phone immediately after coming home from church.) C.I. said, Ty and Jess agreed, that it felt like this was going to turn into several hours about The Creep and, at the end of it, maybe an editorial would be completed and maybe it wouldn't.

Ava had been on the phone with her father and walked in late on that discussion. (She and Dona share an apartment and Jim, who's involved romantically with Dona, is pretty much a permanent guest. Ty and Jess were also present at Ava and Dona's for this speaker phone exchange.) Rebecca said mid-morning today that if she had it to do over again, she would have dropped it after the discussion in the middle of the news review. Jim also reached that decision after sleeping on it ("and getting balled out by Dona"). But one of them brought it back up on Sunday night. There's confusion as to who. Both Rebbecca and Jim, in their statements to me, take the blame. C.I., Ava and Elaine maintain the issue was that it was brought up and it doesn't matter by whom. Ty thinks it was Rebecca but thinks she only hinted at it. Jess, Dona and Mike say it was Jim. (I was not able to reach Betty and Cedric's responses were all along the lines of "yes" or "no" with no elaboration.)

Ava, after it was brought up, made the point that Scotland's Sunday Herald had done a series of imporant articles and instead of addressing that (at The Third Estate Sunday Review or The Common Ills) everyone was focused on The Creep. The Sunday entries at The Common Ills by C.I. also included a note about what was being missed while The Creep ate into everyone's time. (Early Monday morning, an entry went up at The Common Ills covering Scotland's Sunday Herald articles on torture and rendition.)

Ava and Jess hit the e-mail accounts this morning and already knew from C.I. that this was the topic of most e-mails. They had expected that it would now be over but that wasn't the case. Jess's feeling on this is that, "Everyone has now had their say and then some. Move on."

Rebecca says she's moved on but "wishes" C.I. would at least read the article. C.I.'s feeling is that The Creep isn't worth reading on a good day and that now the thing written is something just worth avoiding. (Ava and C.I. both stated that they will always think of The Creep when they think of the TV review they wrote and prefer not to ever read The Creep again. Ava says The Creep could break an important story and she still wouldn't read The Creep.)

Dona, during the news review break, brokered the agreement for people wishing that something would "be done": a) The Creep would never again be mentioned by name at any site or have any work plugged and that b) The Third Estate Sunday Review, minus C.I., would write a note on this to conclude it. Dona says that she can't believe that after both things were implemented the topic continued to spill over "into everything." Jim and Rebecca readily cop to being the primary ones responsible for repeatedly raising the subject after the agreement. Kat says she also fed into that because she made the mistake, on a 15 minute break, of reading The Creep and "it got me all riled up, all over again."

Martha hates The Creep (members know why) and it is personal (members know that) and it predates The Common Ills (members also know that). I spoke with Martha and Martha feels The Creep "steals" and it's obvious because the topic just pops up. There's no attempt to provide any information. Martha feels that as a result of The Creep being called out in the past (by members, including Maria) for stealing, The Creep took enough to qualify as theft. Martha also expects The Creep to return to the topic at a later date. Members know why Martha feels that way. (Or should. Check the round-robin from the first week of July for the column Martha wrote entitled "Stabbed In The Back" about how The Creep's attacks on one of Martha's friends.)

I've read The Creep's piece. I would agree that some "inspiring" exists. That is based upon past "borrowing." I'm sure it will happen again (though I don't intend to read The Creep again). The calling out, by members, of The Creep for the last three thefts (in my judgement, obvious thefts) either made The Creep more cautious or, since C.I. was addressing an aspect that wasn't widely discussed, The Creep wanted to get some confirmation on that before rushing it into print. (Either to be safe or to have a quote so The Creep could pull the "I don't steal" nonsense again.)

C.I. hasn't and will not read The Creep. To C.I. and Ava, regardless of whether it was "theft" or "borrowing", The Creep screwed up their weekend and their review. They won't give any more time to The Creep. C.I. also feels that reading The Creep would be a "akin to asking for a pleasure cruise to hell."

More importantly, C.I. feels information should be free. The issue, C.I. feels, has more to do with the past history with The Creep and an issue of concern with some members (addressed last week) of not crediting. This was a point Jim made as well. "People can borrow," Jim said. "They don't even have to credit in the thing they write. But the fact that they want to publicly act as though they're not coming here is annoying."

As we know from Durham Gal's e-mail from The Creep (printed in the round-robin the second week of July), The Creep has admitted to visiting this site "several times a week" and thinks "good work, strong work" is done here. But The Creep keeps that private and then wants to "borrow." That's the issue that has impacted the current rage towards The Creep.

This is a member community. This isn't "Beth's community" or Ava's, or C.I.'s, or Jess's, or Marcia's, or Erika's . . . The lack of recognition is pissing members off. Which is why P.J. wrote the thing to try to calm the community. (And others followed.) The Creep got caught in "the raging storm," as Ty noted.

My opinion is that the issue has been dealt with. Dona's agreement has been noted at various communities sites (and will be followed) so it's time to move on. If members have a problem, they can continue to write to me about this. If I revist the topic, I will do so in the round-robin.
Elaine pointed out that The Creep could be innocent this time but that past history was playing into this. I will agree with that as well as her point that the community suffers when this is "Topic A."

I started with C.I.'s joke about Wonkette and when I read that back, I was asked to clarify. C.I. was referring to Corrente's entries about "MUST CREDIT WONKETTE." C.I. thinks Anna Marie Cox is a good writer as Ana Marie Cox but is aware that Wonkette is a joke to many.
C.I. hasn't read Wonkette and doesn't intend to (out of fear that some of the criticism of Cox might be valid). But C.I. said if Wonkette was going to be mentioned to put in that Cox needs to review her contract and "now, while she has some power" insist on some changes. "Otherwise, she could end up the Clayton Moore of the net." Confused? I was too. Clayton Moore played the Lone Ranger on TV. After the show was cancelled there were efforts to deny him from appearing in public as the Lone Ranger. C.I. also noted that Florence Ballard signed away her right to be billed as a Supreme and that Jay Lasker and others attempted to get Michelle Phillips to sign away her rights to ever be billed as "Mama Michelle." (Michelle Phillips was apparently too smart for that.) While Wonkette is "riding high," C.I. strongly suggests that Cox review her contract because there are rumors that a similar arrangement may be in her contract and, should she leave or be fired, she's barred from using any reference to "Wonkette" which is a company trademark. "If the rumors are true," C.I. said, "it would be smart for Cox to insist the contracts be redrawn now while she has the power. If the rumors aren't true, it's strange that they've suddenly become such a huge topic."