Sunday, June 19, 2005

Media Roundtable

Ava: "If it's Sunday and you're hearing something other than conventional wisdom and Bully Boy butt smooching, you're missing Meet the Press." That statement courtesty of Jess and Ty.
Our participants for this Sunday's roundtable include Jess, Ty, Dona and Jim and myself of The Third Estate Sunday Review; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man; Kat of Kat's Korner and C.I. of The Common Ills.

Betty: Let's kick start it all with the Downing Street Memos. There's been a huge shift this week.

Jim: I'd agree with that. The week started one way and it ended another. We all saw that around us.

Rebecca: Which was the reason Common Ills community member Michael was so angry. I hope that was clear. There were two big issues C.I. dealt with and Michael wasn't thinking, "Give the community attention!" as much as he was thinking, "No one else will talk about this! Pay attention!"

Kat: Michael was 100% right in my opinion. The press was taking a pass, big surprise, huh?
And there were sites that didn't even notice Toad's sneering piece in The New York Timid. When I did see something linked, much later in the day, it was, as Maggie put it, the "most pedistrian" bullshit ever. Sumner mocked that piece as, "Times was mean. I'm mad." It was just weak ass bullshit. Meanwhile, check the time stamp on the entry, the first one out of the gate with the strongest argument was C.I. "Editorial: Still Timid, the Times takes a dive" was the only way to respond to Toad & The Timid. That's why I linked to it on my blog.

Jim: And it's our blog spotlight for the week because it was the only way to respond. Timid mocks Downing, you don't roll over or notice it the next day as some did. You get in there and start swinging. You let them have it with both barrels. You put Toad and The Timid on notice that if you want to mock news, actual news, be prepared to be the laughing stock because you won't get the last word.

C.I: We're referring to Todd S. Pudrum's ""A Peephole to the War Room: British Documents Shed Light on Bush Team's State of Mind" which ran on Tuesday in The New York Times and was supposed to be a "news analysis" -- that's how it was labeled by the paper. And, for the record, I didn't call him "Toad" in that piece, though I have before.

Jess: You reworked that before you posted it.

C.I.: I took a walk before posting and thought about what I was feeling which was this huge intense anger that was caused by Purdum and The Timid. They did a put-down and responding with anger meant they were successful. So when I came back, I quickly redid the thing, keeping some sentences but turning it into a, "Put-down us? You want to put-down us? Oh, you don't know how to mock, Todd S. Purdum, you only think you do."

Dona: It reduced me to laughter. Seriously, reading that editorial I was about to pee in my panties!

Jim: She woke me up with her laughter. I don't wake up in a good mood, ever. And I was all, "What the hell is so funny?"

Dona: Huge grouch in the morning.

Jim: She goes, "Hold on, I've got to go to the bathroom" and so I sit down at the computer and start reading.

Dona: And when I come back, he won't go back to the place I was at. He wouldn't scroll back up. I had to go into Ava's room and ask her if I could use her computer because I couldn't wait to read more about Todd and how his smelly jock had effected his judgement.

Ty: And that's how it should be. The Timid wants to try to sneer and be sarcastic, give it right back to them ten fold.

Betty: Because humor's a very powerful tool.

Jess: Especially when you're dealing with someone like The New York Times which not only can't take what they dish out but is used to setting the ground rules and having people play on their terms. Which is a point you made somewhere in the entry or in a comment later about not letting them set the terms.

C.I.: Actually that was at Rebecca's site.

Rebecca: But I was quoting C.I. I mean look at Centrist Ed. He was so offended by what I wrote about him. About him. He could care less about taking the time to defend his colleagues. But his witty bitty feelings are hurt. He wants me to discuss his looney political ideas. They're looney. Even if the proposal didn't include a "do not quote without permission" provision, why would I want to. Better to let everyone know, via humor, that we're dealing with someone who's clue phone went out of service years ago. The Times wanted to treat this ridiculous person as a rational person worth listening to, I didn't. And the point C.I. always makes, what Jess read, was fight on your terms. Centrist Ed wants to spin and wants people to respond to that nonsense. I won't join him on the battlefield of nonsense. I'll refute him from my areas of strength. It's like he wants to say "Cheesecake is the most nutrious food in the world." I know it's not. He wants me to come over to his battlefield and say, "Actually, if you look at the nutrient value for a single granny smith apple . . ." I won't do that. It's insane to argue that cheesecake provides you with nutrients. If someone else is strong on that battlefield or interested in it, take him on there. I'm not going to. He bores me. I'll just make my little jokes from my own terrain, thank you very much. And Betty does this too.

Betty: Right, I mean Thomas Friedman is an idiot. And for the last two weeks, he's done a pretty good job of insulting the entire world. I don't do my blog in a "Thomas Friedman said this but actually" kind of way. I do a send up like on The Carol Burnett Show. I make my points, which hopefully people get, with humor. How everyone he writes of meeting in his columns speaks exactly like him, regardless of what country they supposedly originally hail from, how they all praise him, you name it. And the colonial attitude he has, the imperial attitude, is at the heart of the blog. That's the larger story that we find out a bit about each week. Betinna's starting to remember some things and as she remembers more and more we'll see how the imperalistic and patronizing idea of Thomas Friedman's resulted in their being together.

Ava: I want to address something Ruth brought up in relation to the Downing Street Memo. She noted that a reporter for The Guardian went on NPR's Morning Edition and didn't even mention the memo even when discussing Tony Blair's political problems. She noted that here, in the United States, we're under the impression that the British press has been all over this. And while some have, some haven't. This resulted in e-mails to her. They couldn't find a single article that had been written about it in The Guardian. Ruth did find one. I wanted to read something because Pru and Gareth and other UK community members have backed Ruth up on this but I spoke to her Friday and there's still criticism. No one can find anything, again only Ruth and her granddaughter have been able to find one article from The Guardian written by them, so I want to note, for the record, this online chat from The Washington Post with Michael Smith who has been the one breaking the stories on this at The Sunday Times of London.

One point I would make though, everyone keeps saying it is continually making waves over here. We at the Sunday Times are not going to let it go but no-one else is interested in the U.K. press. The Washington Post came to it late but look at everything it is doing now. Ignore today's silly editorial article. The Post is now working away at this and I know they are planning to try to do more on it. Sadly there is no sign of the New York Times changing its sniffy we told you this already view!

Now there's a lot in there to chew on --

Ty: And chat on! Because this our Sunday chat & chew.

Ava: Right but C.I. and I have both spoken to Ruth and there have been some very angry e-mails to her for stating what is indeed the obvious, The Guardian hasn't led on this.

C.I.: Right and maybe the attitude comes from looking to the overseas press which is traditionally braver than our domestic media -- possibly just when it comes to covering the US which is a foreign country for them -- and apparently Ruth risked demolishing one of their treasured myths. The Guardian is a good newspaper in many ways, but it is also a partisan newspaper. It stands with Labour and that may be why they haven't pursued this story the way they should have. Obviously, Tony Blair's struggling and Jack Straw's being readied as the replacement, much to Gareth's disappointment, I might add, but the memo doesn't just implicate Tony Blair. There are ministers who are not Clare Short and did not step down. It could also be something as simple as not wanting to pursue a story that a competing paper, The Times of London, owns. But for whatever reason, The Guardian hasn't heavily pursued this story. And that reality upsets people and a number of visitors have decided that they're going to kill the messenger, in this case Ruth.

Jim: I think it comes down to a lot of people in the US not grasping that The Guardian is partisan. Historically, in this country, we had openly partisan papers. In the lead up to the invasion/occupation, Americans who knew they were the victims of Operation Happy Talk went elsewhere for their news. And they didn't realize that partisan papers exist. It's been so long since we've had them here. What we have now is a corporate media that operates to protect itself.

Ty: There's nothing wrong with being a partisan paper or an openly partisan one. But it's been so long since we've had that in this country that we go to The Guardian and read some hard truths there and think, "They cover every important story." They're a partisan paper, there's nothing wrong with being that, they're openly partisan. But I think it's a shock to a lot of the people who've been going to the site.

Dona: Because they don't the paper's history or the history of the press. Even our own history in this country, they don't know. But I mean, that's Michael Smith who's broken every story on this and I'd say his comments are informed and very damning actually.

C.I.: And let's note Smith's comment on The Timid, " Sadly there is no sign of the New York Times changing its sniffy we told you this already view!" In addition, Danny Schechter and Bob Somerby have also had strong critiques of Todd S. Purdum's "news analysis." But the "news analysis" wasn't on the front page of the paper or, I believe, a high profile link on the Timid's home page. So that may explain why the "news analysis" didn't get the strong critique initially (or in many cases since) the morning it was published.

Ty: When it was needed because The Timid needed to know that crap wasn't going to be greeted with a shrug. And I think that's why Michael was so angry. I brought something in to read as well, "for the record:"

But of all the major national newspapers, none have been so deconstructionist, cavalier, and churlish in treating the memos as The New York Times. Todd Purdum, for example, has declared that the documents are not "shocking." Official evidence of a rush to war not shocking?It is hard to escape the conclusion that, for the most part, the American print media's bringing up the rear "beetlebum" approach in covering the memos constituted a rather blatant dereliction of duty. It indicates a complicity in resisting a re-examination of the official lies on the path to war. It is almost enough to make one believe that major media outlets are afraid to take on the White House’s version of truth, either out of worry over being out of step with other "mainstream media," or because they fear losing access to high-level sources, or because top editors supported, and support, the invasion and occupation of Iraq--and in some well-known cases, their own stories "fixed" intelligence to fit the pro-war view.

That's from Editor & Publisher, "British Documents: The Pentagon Papers of Our Time?" by William E. Jackson, Jr. and I'm doing it "for the record" for a reason. Felicity Barringer was allowed to have her reply posted and Jim and I attempted to be very polite in our response to that because, as you noted, she was one reporter for The Times who wanted to do more than send those private e-mails where they bitch and moan is to be applauded. But she was selective in her response. "I did present other viewpoints." Yes, buried in the story were other viewpoints.
But the problem was presenting this "movement" in the enivornmental movement by citing three "environmentalists" and then going to think tanks, way down in the story, to offer minor disputes. The hook of the story was that there was a shift, it was a shift of three and I question two of the three being called "environmentalists." The "hook" overwhelmed the story, and was meant to, that's why it was the opening paragraphs. That's not dealt with. So if Todd Purdum ever wants his say, I will be having my say. I will be noting that an attitude of "you and you alone got that from my story" is not the case. I know this isn't a topic C.I. wants to go into.

C.I.: I appreciate that she went public with her criticism. It's an opinion, a matter of opinion. Some will agree with her and some won't.

Ty: Well I printed up that reply that was posted on the web site and I printed up her story that Shirley was kind enough to send me and took both to three of my journalism professors. They all said the story, as written, wasn't a hard news story and maybe as a feature article certain problems could be excused but as a hard news story the criticism was sound. The hook was questionable but Barringer elected to hang her story on it. She began the piece noting, in detail, the position of the three "environmentalists" and she never gave equal space for actual environmentalists to refute it. One professor said, "Advetorial is a good term, it reads like an endorsement of nuclear power plants." And before Todd Purdum decides he'll have his input three weeks from now when most people won't be able to read the original article, I'm compiling criticism of it from other sources and I will respond to it.

C.I.: I'll just say I disagree with her opinion but am glad she shared it. And add that I'm a participant in the roundtable. Translation, I'm not spell checking so if there's a typo in her name, that's not my doing. I referred to her as "FB" in the entry on the community's reaction because I didn't want to risk spelling her name wrong.

Betty: I want to talk about another issue that came up this past week at The Common Ills. We heard for weeks and weeks that riots were caused all over as the result of a Newsweek report.
In the case of Afghanistan, Newsweek doesn't seem to have had anything to do with their riots.

Ava: Betty's referring to the "Night Letter." Which was discussed in a New Yorker article by Jon Lee Anderson entitled "The Man In the Palace."

Betty: Right. The "Night Letter" led to the riots in Afghanistan and the only periodical I'm aware of reporting on it was The New Yorker. And the only talk on that article I saw occured Monday at The Common Ills.

Jim: Which is shocking because of all the jaw boning that went on in defense of Newsweek. Here's an article that's telling you "The Newsweek Koran story wasn't responsible." And no one's discussing that.

C.I.: That's the opening of the story. Anderson's writing about many other things in the article.

Jess: Which may be why the mainstream press didn't want to get behind the article. We want to kid ourselves that Afghanistan is either a miracle or, for the semi-realistic, an improvement. Anderson paints a bleak portrait that doesn't scream "Thump our chests and look what we've done!" I think that accounts for a lot of the silence in the mainstream.

Betty: But this was the other thing Michael was so angry about and how can you blame him. This is an important story and no one's talking.

Rebecca: You mean online, Betty?

Betty: Right.

Rebecca: Well when I noted C.I.'s entry, and the point is you have to be a reader. I think it's the difference between whether you actually pick up a magazine or if you just visit a site online. If you visited The New Yorker online, you didn't find the story because it wasn't made available online. And I said that early this week based on my own observations but Reuters, in a story about newspaper reading, had an article on Thursday, that backed that up. Lisa Baertlein's "One-fifth of Web users prefer online news - Nielsen:"

Nearly one-fifth of Web users who read newspapers now prefer online to offline editions, according to a new study from Internet audience measurement company Nielsen//NetRatings.
The first-time study from Nielsen//NetRatings found that 21 percent of those Web users now primarily use online versions of newspapers, while 72 percent still read print editions.
The remaining 7 percent split their time between online and offline editions. Comparable historic statistics were not available.

Kat: And that's a problem because everything's not available online. Forget that The New York Timid starts charging in September, I'm not aware of many news sources that make everything available online.

Jess: In These Times makes the majority of each issue available online to everyone, not just subscribers. It's rare for a week to go by when I don't see chatter and think, "Well yeah, In These Times noted that . . . four months ago!" A lot of people would benefit if they'd stop relying on the same "accepted" sources for information.

Ava: Excuse me, I'm interrupting here. We're working Dallas like crazy to find links and he's just got the post on the "Night Letter." I'll note that we appreciate Dallas' hard work and that left to ourselves, we'd probably provide very few links. Here's the section from Jon Lee Anderson's article that's available online, via The Common Ills:

On May 11th, riots broke out in the city of Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan. The violence followed a Newsweek story -- which has since been retracted -- on new allegations that American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran. In the next few days, the protests spread to the capital, Kabul, and throughout the country. In some provincial towns, police fired into crowds. But early on there were signs that the violence had less to do with Newsweek than with Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai.
On the first night of rioting, copies of an anonymous letter circulated in the streets of Kabul. This Night Letter, as it was called, was a vehement exhortation to Afghans to oppose Karzai, whom it accused of being un-Islamic, an ally of the Taliban, and a "U.S.A. servant." The letter said that Karzai had put the interests of his "evil master" ahead of those of Afghans, and it called for leaders who were proven patriots, mujahideen -- a synonym, in this case, for members of the Northern Alliance, many of whom are now warlords and regional strongmen -- to defy him. The timing was opportune: Karzai was on a trip to Europe, in search of financial backing. His next destination was Washington, where he planned to discuss a pact that would guarantee the United States a long-term military presence in Afghanistan.
Karzai seemed unsure of how to respond. Even as the unrest continued, he stuck to his itenerary and, from Brussels, called the riots a "manifestation of democracy." When he finally arrived home, several days later, he held a press conference, at which he blamed unspecified "enemies of peace" for the violence. He asked, "Who are they who have such enmity with Afghnistan, a nation that is begging for money to build the country and construct buildings and during the night they come and destroy it?"

Sorry to cut in like that Jess but we're talking about it and I know some readers may be wondering what Anderson wrote about the "Night Letter." That's from Jon Lee Anderson's "The Man In The Palace" in the June 6, 2005 issue of The New Yorker. Sorry, Jess.

Jess: No problem. But if we're not talking about In These Times, there's a huge problem in assuming a website visit is going to give you an understanding of what's important in an issue of a magazine. That was my point. I'll also add that my parents subscribe to The New Yorker but they didn't know about it until C.I. posted on it. They don't get their copies in the mail as late as C.I. does. In fact, Dad wanted to know if you received anything since the June 6th issue?

C.I.: No and that includes Saturday's mail.

Jess: But they get The New Yorker and there's a great deal to read each issue. They also get other magazines like In These Times, The Nation, The Progressive, Mother Jones, just go down the list of left magazines.

C.I.: And as a New Yorker subscriber, I'll weigh in, I belive your father feels the same way, that sometimes you look at the table of contents and think, "Is there anything in here to read?" Every issue isn't Seymour Hersh or Jane Mayer.

Jess: Yeah, Dad makes that point too. Sometimes it's just the cartoons and Talk of The Town for him and he's not really pleased with Hendrick [Hertzberg]'s writings of late which he says come off like he's bored with everything around him. But it's a big issue each week and there's a lot to absorb. If it's a busy week, they'll set The New Yorker aside for later. And they didn't read the article until it was quoted Monday at The Common Ills.

C.I.: I want to be clear that I'm not denying Michael's right to be angry. I just think it's counter-productive and against what The Common Ills stands for to do his initial suggestion.

Ava: Which was a boycott of places not noting the "Night Letter" or Todd Purdum's article.

C.I.: Correct. And we don't need more links. Martha's been working hard to get the "Night Letter" out. She had one person e-mail her back that it was a frightening story, I believe "fightening" was the term Martha quoted to me. And when someone says that and says they'll try to discuss it, I do understand the anger that Michael or someone else will feel when the issue's not addressed. I should note, this topic was addressed in this week's gina & krista round-robin by Michael, Martha, Eddie and Lloyd who've worked very hard to get attention to Anderson's article. But members take this very personally and they shouldn't in terms of the site. If the issue's not being discussed, be upset. But I certainly didn't go to Afghanistan and report on it. Anderson reported it. All we are, at The Common Ills, is a resource/review. Well, we're a community as well. But my point is, we're not "breaking news." I don't need credit for the "Night Letter." Jon Lee Anderson does. And the article should be noted because it's an important one. And let me clafiry something because we're talking about anger and Martha's been mentioned by name. She sees anger as counter-productive. She's just trying to get the issue out. The only thing that really bothered her this week was that on Friday, she e-mailed out on this to several organizations and then followed up when she realized that to someone unfamiliar with The Common Ills, it might come off like she was me.

Ty: Which happened! ____ credited community member Eddie as being C.I.

C.I.: Please delete the name of that site from this entry, I don't want anyone to be embarrassed. That site noted an issue that was raised at The Common Ills. I thought it was funny that since Eddie e-mailed it to them, they thought Eddie was C.I. However, Eddie was really upset and, I'm afraid, still feels bad about it. It was an honest mistake by the person who made it and it's no big deal. I was surprised when all these e-mails came in that day addressed to Eddie from visitors because I was trying to figure out what link or comment he'd provided in an entry that had touched off something in them so. I e-mail him that he's getting e-mail at the site and does he want it forwarded? He e-mails back sure. Then that night, I get an e-mail from him saying he's so sorry and he didn't tell the person he was me. That explained all the e-mails to him but I thought it was funny and I've said before that Eddie has nothing to feel bad about, nor does the writer who made the mistake, but I want to say it here because I think Eddie's still upset by it.
I never was. It's not anything that the writer needs to correct or note. It's meaningless and Eddie should stop worrying about it.

Ava: So let me go into the e-mails. Doris of Colorado wants to know how pissed you were at Rebecca for breaking the story on Michael's petition?

Rebecca: We haven't spoken since.

C.I.: People are not going to know that you are joking.

Rebecca: I'm joking.

C.I.: I wasn't angry with Michael, I wasn't angry with Rebecca. In all honesty, I did think, "Why tonight?" Because I'd thought I had one more entry to do and could actually get some sleep that night. Then I go into the e-mails and it's all anyone's talking about. So I ended up having to post on it that night. It probably needed to be addressed anyway, but if I'd had a choice, it would have been done later in the week. That night, Eli, Keesha and I were each counting the ballots to our election and I'm lousy at math so I'd counted and recounted and counted a third time to make sure I had my count correct before we all got together on the phone. I was exhausted and the plan was, after the phone call, do one entry on links that members had e-mailed about. Then I get back online, pull up Blogger, the program we all use, and hit the e-mail for what I think will be quick reads in case anyone's got additional articles they want highlighted. Instead, everyone's talking about Rebecca's post and wondering if Rebecca was correct about what my position on the boycott would be. Which she was.

Ava: Back into the mail bag, We've got Benny in Honolulu wanting to know if it's okay to ask Betty a personal question?

Betty: Sure.

Ava: Benny notes that these sessions are all night ones and wonders how you juggle children and this?

Betty: I'll take that as a compliment and not a suggestion that I'm a bad mother, so thank you, Benny. Well it's Saturday so that means they can stay up later. I read to them during the day because they usually fall out while they're playing or watching TV. Right now, they're watching Finding Nemo for the millioneth time and I'm in the same room they are so they run over from time to time. But they will fall asleep at some point and I'll excuse myself to carry them to bed. I'm a night owl and when each of them were infants, that came in handy but with work I do have to get to bed at a reasonable time during the week. On Saturdays, I'll stay up as long as I'm not yawning to help out and, for me, I learn a great deal here. I started out helping The Third Estate Sunday Review before I started doing my blog and that was to get an idea of what was involved and how to do it. I learned then, I learn every week.

Ava: Back into the mail bag. Personal question, this is from Bradford who doesn't give a location, but a number of e-mails came in on this. Did Jim and Dona have a huge fight over his mentioning her aunt's surgery in last week's "A Note to Our Readers?"

Jim: Who answers that?

Ava: You and Dona? Probably Dona should go first judging from the e-mails on this topic.

Dona: It was discussed in the "Five Minutes, Five Books" article. Before that was published, I decided to strike those comments. I didn't feel like it was something I wanted published. But we were all tired from a hellish week. When the note went up, we were all just wanting to go to bed and get some sleep. I didn't read over it. Ava noted that she didn't read over it. We were shouting out things for Jim to include but we didn't take the time to read over it so that was our mistake. Jim wasn't aware that the remarks were struck from the "Five Minutes, Five Books."
He'd gone on a food run during that. So it was my mistake for not reading over the note before it went up but we all just wanted to go to sleep. I wouldn't have chosen to post it but there was no ill will or desire for a 'scoop," Jim was discussing something that he thought was already mentioned in another article.

Ava: Jim?

Jim: I think Dona covered it.

Ava: Charles in Morrissville, mail bag again, notes that Rebecca offered her opinion on how the press would deal with the John Conyers' hearing. He agreed with it and says he saw the reaction Rebecca predicted in The Washington Post coverage. He was wondering if we could all offer our predictions on what happens now?

Jim: The AP's publishing excerpts as we're doing this roundtable, excerpts from the memos/minutes.

Ty: They are?

Jim: Yeah. I think it's got traction, I think it will continue to get traction. The story's not going away.

Betty: I agree with that. But I also think that people who are talking about it need to continue to do so. If there's any let up, the mainstream press will probably drop it like a hot potato.

Dona: Because they were shamed into covering this, let's be honest. The Timid's had one slam after another at bloggers this week. Not funny ones because they lack humor. But they were forced to cover it. And their contempt oozes out in their attacks on bloggers, Air America and others.

Kat: It's dumb ass humor on The Timid's part. Like that e-mail in last week's "Dear Third Estate Sunday Review" where that joker thought he could go head to head with Ava and C.I.

Ty: Can we get that quoted here.

Ava: Dallas was thinking the same thing, Ty. Here it is:

Dear Third Estate Sunday Review,
So let me show you something: Ava and C.I. crayola penned TV reviews are both juvenile and old. See, I can do smart ass too. Guess I should write for Third Estate Sunday Review.
Holbert in Oklahoma
Dear Holbert,
We turn this over to C.I. and Ava. Well, Holbie, way to give it the old pre-K try. We'll assume that you're quite the cut up in after school day care. However, there's smart ass and there's dumb ass. Don't strain yourself trying to figure out which one houses your brain. Thanks for writing.

Ty: Which is what Kat's talking about.

Kat: Right. You've got lame jokers trying to compete with devastating humor. The Timid can try all they want but they lack the inspiration and the gift to come up with, for instance, Todd Purdum's smelly jock sending fumes to his brain that's impairing his analytical abilities. And the crack about how it's apparently a requirement for everyone at The Timid to come to work wearing a jock was priceless. They make sports analogies way too often and treat serious issues as a joke. But they aren't funny. I mean "Dead Sea Scrolls?" That's the best Toad could do? It wasn't funny. And it wasn't even not funny because he overreached by going for something highly intellectual and lost the audience. "Dead Sea Scrolls?" If Ava or C.I. used that, I'd accuse them of phoning it in.

C.I.: I'll jump in here --

Rebecca: Get ready, the In Fairness Train is pulling into the station.

C.I.: You know me too well. In fairness, it should be noted that Douglas Jehl did an actual report on it in late May and that Friday Scott Shane did actual reporting as well. Both work for The Times. That doesn't excuse Todd S. Purdum's reporting and certainly there must be a better way to utilize Scott Shane than handing him the mop repeatedly to clean up after fluffers who either serve on the Elite Fluff Patrol or are attempting to. My opinion, if the pressure keeps coming from the public, the issue stays in the press. The minute it dies, they find another celebrity scandal or missing white woman, blonds are strong favorites, to breathlessly report on and call that "news."

Kat: I want to jump in and ask a question here, if I can. Scott Shane got praised Friday at The Common Ills and I agree that it was strong reporting. But I was wondering, and this is for C.I. obviously, if there was a backing off from Judith Miller because of Shane's reporting?

C.I.: I'm glad that you asked that because had there been time on Friday, I'd hope to address that. A lot of members e-mailed on that. Judith Miller had another in her series of grudge f**k the UN articles. I saw it. I didn't comment on it. If The Timid wants to get serious about the Downing Street Memo, speaking for me, the offer made here in an editorial stands and I'll gladly bite my tongue with regards to Judith Miller. However, I haven't seen that happen, the paper getting behind this story. One article by Douglas Jehl and [one by] Scott Shane doesn't cut it. But I made a decision of what to spotlight that day and members' e-mails that came in prior to the entry being composed were all noting Scott Shane as well. To me that was the most important thing in the paper and what everyone should be aware of if they didn't normally read the paper. Had I written on Miller, I would've noted that her latest attempts at a grudge f**k had apparently blown up in her face since not only did she once again have her "handler" co-writing the article (Warren Hoge), a third reporter was also brought in. Miller, for those who miseed her reporting this week, those fortunate enough to, had been pushing all week (initially without comment from Kofi Annan) that there was a discussion of a contract outside of normal channels. The person that stood accused of having the conversation with Anan has publicly denied it. By that time Miller had done, I believe, two articles on it during the week. Friday's paper found her back with her handler and with a third reporter (not credited in the byline but noted at the bottom of the article) in an attempt to get some sort of a defensive article into print. But we've covered when "Judy Goes Scoop" and we've noted Rudith Miller so there wasn't much worth saying Friday, my opinion, when there was real, actual reporting from Scott Shane. It seemed, to me, that to even note was to undercut what Shane's article accomplished.

Dona: I want to note the lyrics to "When Judy Goes Scoop:"

The sun don't beam
The moon don't shine
The tide don't ebb and flow
A clock won't strike
A match won't light
When Judy goes scoop
Nothing goes right

C.I.: Let's note that the lyrics are a parody take on Harold Adamson and Hoagy Carmichael's "When Love Goes Wrong" from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Betty: Which Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell sing in the film. I love that film. I also loved The Mamas & the Papas entry this morning.

Ava: Where two reporters from The Times have a front page article about a potential earthquake or maybe not. And C.I. compares them to Mama Cass Elliot singing "California Earthquake." And Mamas and the Papas means Jess, who we all know loves them, so, Jess, what's your opinion on where this headed, the press coverage on the Downing Street Memo?

Jess: Well, there's not much to add. I think it's been covered. I agree that the public has to push on this and the alternative media. If they let up, corporate media takes another pass. But I think we saw a huge shift in the public this week as people became aware and it reminded me of something in one of the books we read for the "Five Books, Five Minutes" feature this edition.
It's from Deepak Chopra's Peace Is The Way, page 153: "The way of peace depends on bringing the truth to life, step by step." I think we've seen that throughout the struggle to get the press to cover the Downing Street Memo.

Ava: Okay, this e-mail, Jason from Boulder, congratulates Rebecca for her marketing tips in the last edition and asks her what her take is on the move to switch terms on the Downing Street Memo because some people think the name itself is a "loser." So Rebecca, any thoughts?

Rebecca: I'm not aware of that. I don't know the arguments behind it. If they're strong or weak, I can't tell you. But I can say that you don't switch the products name in the middle of a marketing campaign. A famous example of a bad name was Chevy's Nova which they marketed outside the US as well. "Nova" means one thing, of course. But in Spanish, "no va" means doesn't go.

Ava: From the Spanish irregular verb. The conjugation goes: yo voy (I go), tu vas (you go), el or ellas va (he or she goes), nosotros vamos (we go), etc. So when you place "no" with "va," it can become, in some minds, 'no go' or 'doesn't go' which is the last thing you want someone to think of when you're trying to sell them a car.

Rebecca: Right. Thank you, I don't know Spanish, I just remember us studying this in college.
Now in that instance, Chevy should have changed the name and done so quickly. So possibly a person or people arguing that the Downing Street Memo should be changed to another term are picking up on something cultural or something that's being missed. Again, I don't know the argument, I've never heard it. But once the term got traction, with websites, forget the press, it became the brand name. Kentucky Fried Chicken had the worst time trying to switch over to KFC. There were many jokes about it, a lot of mockery. Today, it's KFC in most people's minds.
Now if someone thinks that we're able to spend that kind of time rebranding the Downing Street Memo, I'd argue, from a marketing perspective, that they are wrong. That's the term that's been popularized. Trying to alter it at this point would consume a great deal of time and result in a great deal of confusion. Again, I don't know why anyone's arguing it needs to be changed, the name, but they may have a good reason for making that argument. From a marketing perspective, the option of rebranding vanished around the middle of May if not sooner. It's a good question, Jason, and I'm sorry that I haven't heard the arguments for changing the title.

Ava: Corey in Houston wrote in to tell Jess that, having read Rebecca's article on Jess' mother, that she's envious of Jess for having such cool parents.

Jess: Thank you to Corey. I got lucky and I know it. I've got great parents. And I'll also say thank you to Rebecca because that was a really nice thing she wrote.

Rebecca: You're welcome.

Ava: We had two e-mails selected with questions for C.I. Do you want to do those?

C.I.: No, I've talked enough. I do try to condense my remarks and not keep talking but I failed yet again.

Ava: We'll note that we'd hoped to have Folding Star with us for the roundtable but a parental visit prevented that. Hopefully, next roundtable. We'll be pulling a Meet the Press nonsense fluff ending here but Ty's been rather quiet during this for a reason. He's been participating and not participating while he watched television. Ty, what were the results?

Ty: Well, Kat was watching too. The Yankees beat the Cubs and Derek Jeter hit two home runs.

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