Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Proud to call Mississippi home?

Not at all!

My state will soon make national headlines again for what it does, or doesn't do, best: race relations.

Thank god for Mississippi. I mean, who else would we laugh at/be disgusted with all the time?

p.s. this is my first post, so if it doesn't work...

Dean: Coulda Been a Contender

TNR Editor Peter Beinart reminisces in Time magazine about Howard Dean.

Last winter Democratic-primary voters played political consultant. They tried to step inside the minds of swing voters and figure out which Democratic presidential candidate could beat George W. Bush. With an eye cast coldly on November, they rejected the man who had first won their hearts, Howard Dean, and flocked to the more "electable" choice, John Kerry. Among New Hampshire voters who said beating Bush was their biggest concern, Kerry beat Dean by a whopping 52 points.

Democratic voters should stick to their day jobs. With just five weeks until Election Day, there's reason to believe they guessed wrong — that Dean would be doing better against Bush than Kerry is...

Were Dean the nominee, the Bush campaign would probably be going after him not as a flip-flopper but as a lefty. Lefty isn't exactly a term of endearment. But at least it evokes issues rather than character. Character debates sank Al Gore and threaten to sink John Kerry now. A debate about issues, on the other hand — especially the biggest issue of all, Iraq — is something Democrats could win.

Hey Bob, About Valerie Plame...

Have you testified?

The real mystery in the investigation, lawyers involved in it say, is what Mr. Novak has done. Mr. Novak's lawyer, James Hamilton, declined to comment. There are four essential possibilities.

Mr. Novak may not have been subpoenaed, which would be curious. He may have asserted the reporter's privilege, but there is no reason to think that Judge Hogan would have ruled in his favor.

He may have asserted his rights under the Fifth Amendment. But Mr. Novak faces no real peril under the 1982 law, and Mr. Fitzgerald could in any event require him to testify by offering him immunity. Or Mr. Novak may have testified.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


So we all know the Times can definitely be the disseminater of stupid stories that makes everyone want to run to more independent outlets, but I have to say that yesterday was a home run. In case anyone missed it, please check out writer rockstars James Glanz and Pam Belluck.

All together now: oooooh...ahhhhh.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Anonymous Sources

Shafer throws down the gauntlet.

If reporters agree with Okrent that background briefings are "an affront to journalistic integrity and an insult to the citizenry" (as I do), they could abolish the practice in a fortnight. All they need do is drop me an e-mail every time an under-sub-deputy-director of flimflam convenes a background briefing. I'll provide the creative destruction by publishing the anonymice's names in this column, thereby putting the briefings on the record.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Matthew Klam does bloggers in 7,800 words

Nothing better than blogging a story about bloggers blogging the political culture of the conventions.
Here, read this.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

"I just tip my hat," he said...

"...and call the Yankees my daddies."

Ladies and gentlemen, Pedro Martinez.

(Courtesy of Mike Vaccaro, at the big bad New York Post.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Talk about a perfect couple

Terry Gross vs. Bill O'Reilly: Round Two

O'REILLY: If you're going to set me up in your introduction as somebody which you have problems with, why wouldn't you put in your book that you were scolded by your own ombudsman? You left that out? Why did you leave it out?

GROSS: I don't know why I left it out.

O'REILLY: You don't know?

GROSS: The point, Bill, is that I think the interview was very fair. The ombudsman criticized it. That's fine. That's the ombudsman's job; to stand back and pass judgment on how things were done. He's an independent voice.

O'REILLY: Right.

GROSS: Does Fox News have an ombudsman?

O'REILLY: Yes. We have an ombudsman some place, I think.

GROSS: I don't think so.

O'REILLY: He's in the closet.

GROSS: Give me a call when you find him.

Listen to the interview that started it all.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Dan Rather Statement

Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question—and their source—vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where—if I knew then what I know now—I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.
(Via Drudge)



Sunday, September 19, 2004

Dobbs Pushes the Story...

As pressure mounts on Bill Burkett:

Retired Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, who earlier said he overheard Bush aides conspiring with the commander of the Texas National Guard to "sanitize" the president's military records, has refused to comment on reports that he could be CBS's confidential source. In e-mails yesterday to The Washington Post, he said he would speak out "at the appropriate time" but "that time is not now."

Friday, September 17, 2004

Welcome To The Party Maureen

The Cobra spells out our Option 5 and what many Dems have been privately chewing on for the last week: that Rove or one of his minions might have set Rather up. It's far-fetched to be sure, but this wouldn't be the first time that Rove has been suspected of complicity in this type of seemingly counterintuitive campaign tactics. This is high stakes politics, and if there was ever a time for campaign black-ops, this is it. This business will probably take some time to shake out. In the meantime, check out this hypothesis.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Hey, Dan Rather, CBS et al., can you say "Whoops!" ?

Expert Cited by CBS Says He Didn't Authenticate Papers [Washington Post, Sept. 14 2004]

Oh, and uh, you Bush Administration folks. Can you guys say a bigger "Whoops!" ?

$3 Trillion Price Tag Left Out As Bush Details His Agenda [Washington Post, Sept. 14 2004]

Yeah, that's just a minor detail.

The expansive agenda President Bush laid out at the Republican National Convention was missing a price tag, but administration figures show the total is likely to be well in excess of $3 trillion over a decade.

A staple of Bush's stump speech is his claim that his Democratic challenger, John F. Kerry, has proposed $2 trillion in long-term spending, a figure the Massachusetts senator's campaign calls exaggerated. But the cost of the new tax breaks and spending outlined by Bush at the GOP convention far eclipses that of the Kerry plan.

Monday, September 13, 2004

CBS Stands Firm...

USA Today. But for how long? You know it's serious when Safire weighs in.

Remember kids, what you learned in Journalism School

I love Seymour Hersh, but this doesn't look good.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 - Senior military and national security officials in the Bush administration were repeatedly warned by subordinates in 2002 and 2003 that prisoners in military custody were being abused, according to a new book by a prominent journalist.

Seymour M. Hersh, a writer for The New Yorker who earlier this year was among the first to disclose details of the abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, makes the charges in his book "Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib" (HarperCollins), which is being released Monday. The book draws on the articles he wrote about the campaign against terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

. . .

Mr. Hersh's account is based on anonymous sources, some secondhand, and could not be independently verified.

The New York Times, September 12 2004

Friday, September 10, 2004

CBS, We Have a Problem

Like, major.

ForgeGate goes into hyperdrive this morning over accusations that 60 Minutes, network TV's flagship news broadcast, (Edward R. Murrow, steel thyself in thy grave), has fallen prey to an elaborate forgery involving documents supposedly impugning President Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard record. The documents suggest that besides neglecting to appear for medical checkups, Bush failed to meet military standards during his time in the Texas National Guard.

Needless to say, the journalistic implications here are very serious indeed. If these docs prove to be false and 60 Minutes can be shown to have run with them during such a frenzied and politically freighted campaign season - during "a time of war" with so much at stake overseas - then CBS News will have had its credibility blighted for a long time to come.

The brouhaha started when Power Line went agro with claims that the documents were obvious fakes. Multiple PL readers said that the documents' proportional spacing, kerning, superscript and other formatting features simply weren't used in the 1970's, when typewriters ruled, and bore all the hallmarks of a poorly rendered MS Word duplication. Drudge quickly followed, reporting that CBS honchos have commenced an internal investigation.

Having conducted a cursory review of circulating pdfs (if THEY are legit, though who the hell knows anymore), we're afraid that there are discrepancies, or at least questions, that need to be answered. A sample of the major papers on this very quickly evolving story, then a dash of analysis.


Documents unearthed by CBS News that raise doubts about whether President Bush fulfilled his obligations to the Texas Air National Guard include several features suggesting that they were generated by a computer or word processor rather than a Vietnam War-era typewriter, experts said yesterday.

Experts consulted by a range of news organizations pointed out typographical and formatting questions about four documents as they considered the possibility that they were forged. The widow of the National Guard officer whose signature is on the bottom of the documents also disputed their authenticity.

Still, throughout the afternoon and evening, questions arose about the authenticity of the memos as various forensics experts told news organizations, including The New York Times, that the fonts of the documents resembled those of modern-day word processors, specifically Microsoft Word.

CBS News released a statement yesterday standing by its reporting, saying that each of the documents "was thoroughly vetted by independent experts and we are convinced of their authenticity." The statement added that CBS reporters had verified the documents by talking to unidentified individuals who saw them "at the time they were written."
As many obervers have noted, this election has devolved into a frenzied spectacle over who did what, when, during Vietnam, instead of who is planning to do what, if anything, to improve the lives of Americans now. With so many pressing contemporary issues at stake, it's a real tragedy that the popular discourse has been hijacked by a bunch of bitter baby-boomers who feel guilty about what may or may have not happened on the Mekong Delta or at an airbase in Alabama.

This does us all a disservice. If the files are fake, than it appears that 60 Minutes, (where are you Lowell Bergman), has been suckered-punched. Media watchers, J-School snobs, and Access Hollywood knobs alike have been pulled into the discussion. And if the candidates and the parties, not to mention Dan Rather and Charlie Rose, insist on obsessing about this story, we will play along.

As we see it, there are five posibilities here. One, the documents are legit, and the story stands. Two, the documents are forgeries perpetrated by an anti-Bush faction, unconnected with the Kerry Campaign or the DNC. Three, the docs' placement is connected to the Kerry or the DNC. Four, the docs are fakes and were planted by GOP activists, knowing they'd be found and understanding the resulting damage to both Kerry and CBS News, poster-chlid of the liberal media. Five, the docs were planted by the Bush campaign, presumably under the tutelege of Karl Rove. To review:

1. Legit
2. Fake - Rogue Left
3. Fake - Kerry Camp
4. Fake - Rogue Right
5. Fake - Bush Camp (Rove)

Bottom line, if the documents are fakes, whatever their source, this represents a serious failure on the part of the CBS News honchos to properly vet their content, and the repurcussions will be felt for some time to come. If, as we suspect, there is some partisan counterprogramming going on here, then it will come out. But from a journalistic point of view, if these docs prove fake, shame on 60 Minutes for getting punk'd.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

the spectator: does the j-school go there?

probably a dumb question, but that's what happens when there's no 2nd-years to grill:

do j-schoolers ever contribute articles to the spectator? i just saw that it's indexed in google news, and a clip is a clip..

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Say It Ain't So Salon

So we know that Salon feels no compunction about seeking to part coin from its readers by premiumitizing its content, (one year for $35). If it had to subsidize paper and ink and postage, like other publications, this might be understandable (TNR: OVER a year for $29.95. As for content, well, we report, you decide.)

Now comes word that Salon may have sought to part content from one of its former writers without just compensation. In an unseemly, inside-baseball dustup that has landed on the doorstep of Columbia Jounalism School, a former Salon writer and current Columbia Journalism Review contributing editor, Russ Baker, has charged Messrs. Talbot and Blumenthal with an act of petty pilferage. Lloyd Grove reports that Baker "has hired a lawyer to press his claim that Talbot and Blumenthal stole from his original work to produce last week's eye-catching Salon interview with Manhattan-based former Bush family friend Linda Allison." Salon has denied, stay tuned...

So rumor has it...

...that a jschool05 Exclusive featuring jschool05 star correspondant Caitlin Johnson will explode onto computer screens across MS Heights in the near future. The public waits with bated breath....

Playboy runs to catch up with the Japanese

Am I guilty of bringing down the blog by posting articles about naked video game characters? You bet. Am I proud of it? Of course.

• “Game Characters Pose for Playboy,” AP, MSN Entertainment, Sept. 8, 2004.

Monday, September 06, 2004

It's No Chivers, But

I got my convention story published:

Log Cabin Republicans Fault Platform

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Chivers: We're Not Worthy

C. J. Chivers has been giving the Pulitzer Prize committee a heads-up with his breathtaking reports from the tragedy in Beslan. Along with Steven Lee Myers, the Moscow Bureau Chief, Chivers has been reporting from the hostage siege at Middle School No. 1 in Beslan, Russia. While Myers has been responsible for the political angle and hard news aspect, Chivers has been filing extended color stories (which in this case are all black) of this horrid affair. The series, and a highlight:

52 Hours of Horror and Death for Captives at Russian School

An Agonizing Vigil Leads to Reunion or Despair
Russian Town's Young Treasures Under Threat

All of his leads during this critical breaking story have been exemplary, but to me this one was the most powerful:

BESLAN, Russia, Sept. 2 - There are no children home at 13 Oktyabrskaya Street, except for the littlest ones, too young to go to school. All the others are hostages, held by militants in the school across the street.

Throughout this small town in North Ossetia, families are stricken with an anguish that until Wednesday was beyond their capacity to imagine. The children of Beslan have become captives by the score in Middle School No. 1, from which gunfire and small explosions have been heard intermittently for two days.

The near despair is evident at 13 Oktyabrskaya, the address in Beslan with perhaps the most at stake. The building has 45 apartments, its residents said, and 40 school-age children live here. None have come home, not even when the heavily armed fighters released 26 hostages on Thursday, all women and children, in the first hopeful sign that negotiators were making progress in their efforts to end the siege.

BrickWatch: Revenge of the Brick

In which we follow the continuing efforts of one Michael Brick, New York Times metropolitan reporter, to make a name for himself and bring honor to the Metro section. A few weeks ago Brick caught our attention with his piece on the death of Williamsburg. This past week Brick has been attached to a rag-tag group of Texas activists who made the trip to New York to protest the president.

Yes, New York Messed With Texans

On TV this week, New York showed the world a choreographed convention punctuated with images of blurry mobs of protesters filling the streets. Somewhere in those crowds, these road-trippers were taking it all in, some lying low, some making trouble. In between rallies they were scattered around Manhattan and Brooklyn, learning the hard way - the way everybody does - about New York City, playground of the unforeseen.
35 Hours on Burgers and 6 Tanks of Gas
Manhattan revealed itself in slow, courtly gestures: a waterfront, a light show, a building whose name the travelers knew. It was past midnight yesterday morning, and their rented Chevrolet van had covered 1,800 miles in 35 hours, stopping only for passengers, Whataburger, waffles and a half-dozen $45 twenty-six-gallon tanks of gas.
Good on ya' Brick, keep up the good work.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Goin' Back to Crawford...

“We’re going to send your ass back to Crawford, bitch!”

So was the refrain from a group of liberal activists who gathered to watch President Bush’s acceptance speech at The Tank, an off-Broadway performance space on 42nd street in Mahattan, on the final day of the Republican National Convention.

The activists, many weary from a week of protests, fetes and arrests, but resolute as ever in their resistance to the GOP, gathered around a grainy television in the courtyard of The Tank to manifest one last message of dissent as the president delivered his prime time address.

This party was something of a final hurrah for the liberal activists who have sought to make their opposition to the Republican National Convention felt on the streets of New York during a week of largely peaceful, if sporadically violent, protest.

And what protests they were.

After a week of demonstrations in America's biggest city by dozens of groups unified by an overriding opposition to President Bush, these activists were tired. Many of them had been to jail; many more waited for word on those still incarcerated.

On the final night of a week of political dissent that saw the largest American political protest in twenty years, and the arrest of almost two thousand demonstrators, these organizers sought to bring closure to their "NYC2004" experience by exchanging contact information and saying good-bye, for now, and reminiscing about time spent in jail and hectic moments on the streets of New York.

The crowd represented something of a liberal intelligentsia, with notable Democrats in attendance, including former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, and top liberal bloggers Duncan Black and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga.

“He promised he was going to provide specifics, but he didn’t,” said Zuniga, whose website,, reaches half a million visitors per day.

Perhaps America's most famous liberal blogger, Kos wore a T-Shirt and a surly countenance. "I'm tryin to act like an asshole, but it's not working," he said.

After posting his latest dispatch, which included this ditty:"The GOP caved under the weight of its own hate and fearmongering," Kos told us that emerging media alternatives such as cable news and Internet web logs have changed the political landscape by creating alternative sources of news that are reaching disenchanted citizens and energizing a jaded electorate.

“His speech was par for the course," Kos said, but it’s not going to work in this media environment. They’re still playing with the 2000 playbook.”

Another prominent liberal blogger, Duncan Black, who attracts 120,000 visitors every day to his site,, said that he while he hoped that Democratic nominee John Kerry would win, he wasn’t in a prognosticating mood.

“Both sides would like to believe that their base is the most organized and that they will get out the vote more than the other side,” he said. “I’d like to believe that people will rise up and defeat the horror that is Bush, but I really have no idea who will win.”

For Black, the highlight of the convention was retiring Georgia Senator Zell Miller’s speech: “I loved Zell,” he said, tongue firmly in cheek. “He’s a true American patriot willing to sacrifice his political career for what he believes in.”

Although the liberal luminaries in attendance garnered most of the media attention, the bulk of the crowd was made up of rank and file leftists – Code Pink activists, Critical Mass bike riders and Billionaires of Bush – who gathered to drink beer and huddle with compatriots on the final night of the Republican Garden party.

To a person, those assembled responded to Bush’s speech with predictable disgust.

“It’s all talk and no action,” said Paul Bellan-Boyer, 46, a Lutheran deacon from Jersey City. “It takes me back to 8th grade social studies, when they taught us about propaganda – anything you can do to demonize your opponent, whether it’s your political opponent or geopolitical opponent.”

Bellan-Boyer’s wife Lisa, who teaches a course called “Culture and Values” at Hudson County Community College, said that they had come to The Tank because “they didn’t want to be alone watching the speech in their apartment, screaming out the window every 30 seconds.”

Another activist, 22 year old Nico Pitney of San Diego, said that he thought that Bush was capable of rallying the Republican faithful, but that on this night the president had fallen short.

Bush’s speech “wasn’t as bad as I hoped it would be and wasn’t as good as I thought it might be.” Pitney said

After a week of rolling protests, many at The Tank were exhausted. But as the liberal radio network Air America’s microphones rolled, the activists were not bashful in expressing their opinion about the president’s moment in the spotlight at 11o’clock tonight.

As Bush took the stage, the revelers responded with an old-fashioned New York colloquialism: “fugeddaboutit!”

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

"A technology whose time is here.''

According to the AP, Philadelphia is considering turning the entire city into the world's largest wireless hot spot. (Via Slashdot.)

For about $10 million, city officials believe they can turn all 135 square miles of Philadelphia into the world's largest wireless Internet hot spot....the city would likely offer the service either for free, or at costs far lower than the $35 to $60 a month charged by commercial providers.

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie Criticizes 'Sham' Media Coverage of Convention

E+P: Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, criticized early media coverage of the Republican National Convention in New York for its emphasis on the "moderate speakers," calling the characterization of such speakers "a sham."

Intrepid: GOP Tuesday Party

To hear members of the "greatest generation" tell it, there is nothing more patriotic than World War II.

At the USS Intrepid, the backdrop of vintage fighter jets and the narrative they invoke tends to overwhelm partisan politics. But in this election season a handful of swing states have assumed paramount importance, and the patriotic militarism of the past has taken a backseat to the political calculations of the present.

On the second night of the Republican National Convention, attention shifted from war rhetoric to electoral politics, and no state is under more scrutiny than Ohio.

Like the Democrats, the Republicans have showered Ohio with special favors, including a front row center spot on the convention floor. Representative Bob Ney of the 16th district of Ohio said that he scored the Intrepid for his convention after-party following a lengthy process of elimination.

At Ney’s party on Tuesday night on the deck of the great decommissioned aircraft-carrier now serving as a museum, the disco music pumped with the indisputable sounds of Donna Summer, Kool and the Gang and Stevie Wonder.

But no one danced, much to the chagrin of party organizers and the hot-dog vendors who were brought aboard to give the delegates a taste of New York.

There, in the midst of the antique World War II fighter jets that were so delicate that no guest could smoke within 300 yards of them, Congressman Ney stood receiving the guests at the party held in his honor.

Congressman Ney hails from a largely Democratic district. He has held his ground there for more than ten years – but this year he finds himself thrust into an electoral battle more important than anything he’s ever faced.

As he stood with his small but tenacious entourage in tow, sipping what appeared to be a gin and tonic, he took a few moments to discuss the treatment the Ohio delegation has received. While pleased at the New York welcome, he was downcast when asked to predict how his state would vote for president.

“It’s nuclear. They’ve been treating me extra special” Ney said. “But the other guy is going to win, though not by much,” he said, referring to John Kerry.

Two reporters had a moment to contemplate his explosive remarks before an Armani-clad aide approached and shooed them away. So they moved on, Donna Summers blaring in the background.

It was a lovely night. From the Intrepid, the view of the New York City skyline was absolutely astounding.

As the rest of the party was eating it up – hotdogs and beer on the flight deck of the Intrepid -- in the middle of the dance floor, where nobody seemed to be, suddenly, a man with a long white beard, clad in a emerald green blazer started rubbing, in a most inappropriate way, grinding if you will, along the backside of a middle aged woman.

The grand old party had begun.

By the hot-dog stand stood a GOP County Commissioner from Delaware, Ohio. Only 27, Kris Jacobsoncertainly has a bright future in the Ohio political world. But tonight he was off the clock -- and here to party. While Heinz 57 dripped onto his shirt, he offered an opinion as to why no one was dancing: “They’re pussies,” he said.

There were other GOP luminaries to be hold on the flight-deck:
Katherine Harris, smartly decked out in a black business suit with gold trim, said that she had enjoyed the convention’s evening program immensely. Harris, who played such a pivotal role in Florida’s 2000 recount as Florida Secretary of State said that she loved Arnold: “He was wonderful, I feel fortunate at having the chance to see him.”

Rick Lazio, the New York congressman who stepped in to face Hillary Clinton during the 2000 NY Senate race after Rudolf Giuliani withdrew after being diagnosed with prostate cancer hinted that he would run again, saying that he anticipated "one more tour of public service."

Meanwhile, Michal Attia, 27, a police officer on duty at the entrance to the Intrepid, said that he was waiting to go home. It had been a long-ass day.

“It sucks,” he said, “I’ve been on since 11AM and I was supposed to leave at midnight, but they told me to stay until the party ends at 2AM.”

As the party petered out under the shadow of the old aircraft carrier beside the intermittent roar of the West Side Highway, it was clear that GOP revelers had other places to go and people to see. As he flicked his cigarette aside before crossing the street, one older Republican lobbyist joked that while some politicians work to serve the people, he “makes money and f---- the public.”

by Caitlin and Sam