Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Another Sunday. We're rested. Mainly because we ate breakfast while two grappled with the issue of what to keep and what to cut.

Let's note the highlights:

Sexto ex comandante militar pide reununcia de Rumsfeld
C.I. on the Kerry "plan" and Dexy Filkins
Blog Spotlight: Mike on going to California
Blog spotlight: Kat on music
Blog Spotlight: Cedric on a shame of 2006
Blog Spotlight: Elaine on the need to note independent media
Humor Spotlight: Wally on Bully Boy
Humor Spotlight: Betty on her 'caring' husband
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca on Flashpoints and indymedia
Food spotlight: Gazpacho soup in the Kitchen

Thanks to all for allowing us to republish.

Along with eating breakfast, four of us also took an extended nap. You'll understand why when we discuss this edition.

"Editorial: Further Disgrace for The New York Times" is an editorial we're proud of and Ty's glad he "got one over on C.I." We credit C.I., rightly, for being on the Dexter Filkins beat from the beginning. C.I.'s mind was elsewhere when Ty squeezed that in and only now are we hearing, "What are you talking about?" But the paper loves it's Dexy, apparently more than it loves the readers and more than it loves reporting. Read the editorial and find out why.

"TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader" is a powerful piece. Ava and C.I. lovers (the entire readership of our site), yes, you will laugh. You will also find yourself nodding along with the strong feminist critique that they offer. This wasn't a piece they planned to write. We actually begged them to take it on last week. Here's what happened, a person C.I. was dictating an entry to begged for the inclusion of a link to a piece critical of Couric. C.I., knowing Couric and the writer, said what was thought to be a brief "wrap around" and nothing more. But that's not what happened. C.I. ended up calling back and saying, "Add this!" and dictated a lengthy commentary which C.I. then pulled (that's why that entry went up so late) before it published. C.I. and Ava know Couric and planned to do no more than note the transfer to anchor of the evening news at some point. But the commentary being made offended them on several levels. When C.I. finished dictating the pulled before publishing section, Ava had a lenthy monologue of her own problems with the commentary. At which point, C.I. dialed back, said "Pull it, we're probably addressing it at The Third Estate Sunday Review."

That was apparently enough to delight their loyal readers. E-mails poured in to this site and The Common Ills. It got so bad at The Common Ills that Ava requested permission (granted) to send out an early draft of what they were working on. This was the research draft, the cut and dry draft. It was never going to make it up here but was their way of working towards what they wanted to finally say. Thoughts that this would end the e-mails were misplaced. More e-mails continued to pour in as members Ava e-mailed the draft to circulated it with other members and friends and pretty soon we were getting more e-mails here on a piece that had yet to run than on anything that's ever run. It got so bad with The Common Ills e-mail accounts that C.I. had to make a plea ("please") for members to move on to another topic because few suggested highlights were coming in as membership focused solely on the Couric issue.

You've got it here today. But it wasn't easy. It was easy for them to write. They blocked out an hour early on while the rest of us were discussing the edition and wrote their commentary. Then they turned it over to us because they felt it might be "too long." It was 120 paragraphs.
I, Jim, made the mistake of stating it was going to be the longest piece we've ever run. Thought that it might be "too long" immediately became "Oh, it's too long" and they started cutting it like crazy. We pulled in Trina to provide fresh eyes and persuade them, if she enjoyed it (she did), that it was fine as is.

At that point it was eighty-two paragraphs. And the issue was settled. We did our other pieces. Some long, some short.

When we did highlights five hours ago (reposts from writing worth noting), we thought we might be done. We weren't. The editorial needed another polish. And? They said, Ava and C.I., go take a nap. We did. Three hours. They did not want to part with their feature. Were it not for the fact that C.I.'s still got to do entries at The Common Ills, they'd probably still be working on it.

At over sixty paragraphs and, according to Ty, 5199 words, we think it's the longest feature we've ever run. That's not a complaint. We're sure everyone who has been awaiting it going up here will be pleased.

"No Voice for the Village" is our take (reality based) on the new directions The Village Voice will likely be headed to.

"Quick Take: Scalia" a quote, a note, is how Dona sums it up.

"Pacifica Radio Highlights" -- support independent media. Utilize indepdent media. We've tried to highlight a cross section of upcoming programming that might interest a range of listeners.

"Musings and thoughts on why you should be watching/listening/reading Democracy Now!" with Laura Flanders on vacation, we focus on Amy Goodman for our 'steer you to the independent voices' feature.

"Quick Media Take" we do read the e-mails (we is basically Ty and Dona). When a reader suggests something, we're happy to give a topic a try.

"When Poodles Snarl " is about our modern day Joan Crawford and Bette Davis among the chat and chew class. We eagerly await their teaming up for a remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

New content was written by:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot

We thank Dallas for links and more. We thank Trina for fresh eyes and input on the TV commentary. The TV commentary was written solely by Ava and C.I.

And that's it. Hopefully you found something to make you laugh, make you think or make you angry enough to get active. We'll see you next week and Happy Easter to those who celebrate.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Further Disgrace for The New York Times

The New York Times ran another mea culpa this week. From A10, "The Times and The Green Zone:"

In our haste to scoop the competition and to provide readers with fresh content from Iraq, it is now becoming obvious that some of the writing that has been labeled "reporting" should have run under the heading of "creative writing." Monday, The Washington Post reported on the governments efforts to conduct a PSYOPS operation on Iraqis and Americans. In that article, Times writer Dexter Filkins was named. Mr. Filkins explained, via an e-mail, to The Post that he had suspicions about the validity of the claim given to him by the U.S. military and no way to verify it. We realize now that, under those conditions, printing such an article might not be a way to strive for excellence in journalism. We depend on our editors to fact check the reporters underneath them so we will add the name John F. Burns to the list of those involved in the publishing of that article. It has come to our attention that Mr. Filkins' award winning piece of journalism was delayed for many days before making it into print. Questions have arisen as to why that happened? While we cannot yet confirm that, as rumored, Mr. Filkins submitted his article to the military for pre-publication approval, the delay between when the events Mr. Filkins is writing about occurred and when the story was actually ready for publication are an issue of concern. We have no idea why he did not report on the use of White Phosphorus in Falluja if he was, indeed, there as claimed. We are also troubled by the fact that a recent article by Mr. Filkins was based upon documents (unverifiable by Mr. Filkins) provided to him by an interested party on the U.S. government's payroll and that the issue of being on the payroll of the government was not noted in the article.
As a result of those details and others emerging, we are conducting a comprehensive investigation into reports filed by (in whole or in part) Dexter Filkins. Previously, when we had a problem, we blamed 'the system.' We wrongly assumed that readers would grasp that we were speaking of editorial staff in whole because indeed we are the system. Due to space constraints, we cannot list everyone that is at fault in this latest mess we have found ourselves in (a mess some have likened to a "quagmire"); however, if you check the masthead, you can assume that each and every name listed on it (in all departments) is responsible in part for the sorry state that we once again find ourselves in. Mea-culpa. If it helps any, we've decided to take refresher courses in ethics (general) as well as some basic journalism courses.

That A10 note ran . . . in an alternate universe because, despite the fact that Dexy was involved (knowingly or not) in a PSYOPS program that targeted Iraqis and Americans, the paper of record has yet to correct Filkins 2004 report.

From Democracy Now!:

US Exaggerating Zarqawi Role in PR Effort
The Washington Post is reporting the Pentagon is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of al-Qaeda figure Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. Some military intelligence officials believe the campaign may have exaggerated Zarqawi's importance and helped the Bush administration link the Iraq war with the September 11 attacks. The propaganda effort has also been reportedly used to build sentiment against non-US foreigners in Iraq. One military briefing was entitled: "Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response." Another document lists "U.S. Home Audience" as a target audience for the campaign.

When the media was ready to plant their story, whom did they go to? Dexter Filkins.

From Thomas E. Ricks' "Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi" (Washington Post):

One slide in the same briefing, for example, noted that a "selective leak" about Zarqawi was made to Dexter Filkins, a New York Times reporter based in Baghdad. Filkins's resulting article, about a letter supposedly written by Zarqawi and boasting of suicide attacks in Iraq, ran on the Times front page on Feb. 9, 2004.
Leaks to reporters from U.S. officials in Iraq are common, but official evidence of a propaganda operation using an American reporter is rare.
Filkins, reached by e-mail, said that he was not told at the time that there was a psychological operations campaign aimed at Zarqawi, but said he assumed that the military was releasing the letter "because it had decided it was in its best interest to have it publicized." No special conditions were placed upon him in being briefed on its contents, he said. He said he was skeptical about the document's authenticity then, and remains so now, and so at the time tried to confirm its authenticity with officials outside the U.S. military.

A general told Ricks, "We trusted Dexter to write an accurate story, and we gave him a good scoop." At a time when journalists are targeted in Iraq and when the administration repeatedly attacks journalists and journalism, exactly how did Filkins earn the "trust" of U.S. military in Iraq?

That, like his rah-rah-rah reporting on the slaughter of Falluja in November of 2004 will apparently not be dealt with by the paper. But readers should wonder and they should grasp that it is the very emobiment of the Green Zone, embed "reporter" that has kept us in Iraq by not informing readers long ago that they were confined to the Green Zone, that they need a military escort to leave, that sections of Iraq were not under the "control" of the occupation and that the slide into chaos and violence finally being noted started long, long ago.

Judith Miller, so the argument goes, got us into war. As C.I. has repeatedly noted, it's the likes of Dexter Filkins that kept us there.

TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader

Who knew it was a war crime? Katie Couric was a cheerleader and an army of Beate Klarsfelds are on her trail in an attempt to warn America of this dangerous contravention of the law. We imagine it's only a matter of time before the tribunal is held. The cheerleader as Eichmann, no doubt, sends shudders through the hearts of many women on the left, center and right, since they too may be charged.

Couric's apparent crime, for some on the left, is saying that Navy Seals "rock." That moment was immortalized in Michael Moore's FAHRENHEIT 9/11 and seems to be the chief piece of evidence that will be introduced when the commentators gather at the Hague.

For some of the left, though not all, that's at the root of their pursuit of Couric. It's the gift of impunity that allows them to operate in a fact-free environment as they compose the charges against Couric. But those who hear such a statement and nod agreeably are also engaged in the national pastime of bash-the-bitch.

Bash the bitch is as American as apple pie and rush to judgement, so who are we to complain?
If it makes us "America haters" to say "Just a minute now" then so be it. Let all the ones partaking in bash-the-bitch wrap themselves in Old Glory, we'll call it the way we see it.

Here's what we see. A woman's trashed. For what she did?

Oh cookie, please, it's for being a woman. Read the commentaries. "Cheerleader" is a trumped up charge -- as usual, the true crime is gender.

This is brought home best in the commentary of one woman, sports writer Barbara Walder, who charges that "Couric Isn't Qualified to Anchor News" -- the exclamation point is, apparently, implied. Walder tells us that "there are truly talented newswomen who could do the job" but she's unable to pull an example out of her sports bra as she goes on to trash Elizabeth Vargas, Connie Chung and Barbara Walters as equally unqualified.

Let's be clear, we don't like Barbara Walters (whom we both know). If you cut the prick, she bleeds Nancy Reagan red. That's a given. Also a given is that regardless of what we think of Walters personally, professionally she is capable of anchoring. At the heart of this bash-the-bitch are two issues. One is the state of TV news, the other is gender. As the two converge, we've got a feeding frenzy on our hands.

Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman's "Katie Couric Versus Amy Goodman" offer the closest thing to genuine criticism we've seen. But where they fall short is in grasping what news on the big three is and has been for decades.

They wouldn't want Amy Goodman as the anchor of a newscast on any of the big three. Amy Goodman with editorial control would be fired by the corporate owners within weeks, if not days, of her first broadcast. Amy Goodman without editorial control wouldn't be Amy Goodman.

They make a list of what they see as Couric's crimes and fail to note that those are the crimes of mainstream media. It didn't happen overnight, it didn't happen in the last ten years. It is one reason that, in the early nineties, CNN took off, because Americans interested in the news were disgruntled with what they'd been offered for some time.

All the talk of Edward R. Murrow fails to note how far along McCarthyism was when he finally called it out. That was a case of the system righting itself, not a case of brave journalism. (Nor were his interviews with the likes of Marilyn Monroe brave journalism.) But we want to kid ourselves that there was a really good time (a "golden age") for broadcast journalism (corporate journalism). In doing so, we want to deny not just what went on in the supposed golden age but what's occurred in the decades since.

Those screaming about Couric's qualifications as "anchor" fail to note the decline of the producer. Celebrity journalism doesn't start with Couric, it starts with America annointing the anchor and networks rushing in to cede editorial content to the anchor.

That's reality and those with broadcast experience who aren't noting that development (a huge one) need to do a little more thinking. The anchor as celebrity ("trusted voice") did a great deal to damage the news content. That predates the announcement of Couric as the new anchor of CBS' Evening News. (Couric will, as do all anchors now, have editorial control.) The monopolies of the nineties ("synergy!") did not create the current state of broadcast journalism. ABC, to offer one example, has had a full dance card of changing partners for decades. Network news has rarely been brave in any decade and citing random examples doesn't change the fact that a top ten list of a decade can be matched, easily, by a worst one million list for the same decade.

One thing that has changed over time was the person who controlled on air content. As that shifted away from producers to "readers" you did a nose dive -- not from a lofty perch but from a squishy middle. Another thing that changed? There was a time, years ago, when the news was an "untouchable" at CBS. Profit wasn't the bottom line. (It was helped, as one retired network executive pointed out to us, by the huge profits to be made in soap operas -- where actors worked for peanuts and in obscurity from the mainstream media -- that vanished long ago.)

Much is made of the fact that The New York Times killed their own story on the impending Bay of Pigs invasion. The Nation did report it. Where was broadcast news? As with the case of most stories over the years, no where to be found. That was in the glory period where profits and advertising dictated content far less than they would come to do. So the commentators would be wise to surrender the notion of a golden age.

There was a time, as with print, when "polls" weren't the topic but issues frequently were. But audiences relying on broadcast news were as much victims of the cold war craze as were the ones reading bulletins from the John Birch Society. There was a difference in degrees but not in content.

Some trotted out Dan Rather as the anti-Katie. He is that. As freakish as he came off, he certainly wasn't Katie Couric. (He was a lot like Nimoy's Mr. Spock discovering emotions for the first time or Jodie Foster's Nell on her first trip to the grocery store.) He also didn't fight the good fight. He read copy, which he wrote or helped to write at times, and he relied on producers.

Mary Mapes, a former producer who worked with Rather, is a name that's popped up as well this week. Some have taken to recommending her book. It's a really bad book. We feel for Mapes but her ignorance shines through in the book. Why did Mapes feel the need to write a personality book (as opposed to leaving out the bits on grandma and making a case as a reporter)? Because she's a product of broadcast journalism and has internalized all the principles at play.

She seems to think she's the first victim of a cowardly corporation. With no historical evidence at her finger tips, she writes a really bad book that tells you she's a nice person (we're told she is) and that she got screwed over (we'd agree with that). She offers nothing on what was done to April Oliver -- either because Oliver is "too hot" to mention or because she's unaware of what happened less than a decade before CBS fired Mapes. Too bad, because what was done to Oliver was done to Mapes and until Mapes can discuss the issues from that perspective, she's wasting everyone's time except for a few partisans.

We support Mapes reporting on the National Guard. The corporation stabbed her in the back. The "investigation" wasn't a journalistic inquiry. Take out "National Guard" and you've got the April Oliver story all over again. When Mapes is ready to connect the dots, she may have something to say. Until then, she's just twisting in the wind.

One of us has family ties to print journalism, the other to broadcast journalism. We know the horror stories of what gets play and what doesn't. We know that the situation has gotten worse and we know it was never all it was cracked up to be to begin with. We can present you with the mainstream argument (concessions must be made when catering to a broad, divergent public) but we've never bought into it. Truth is truth, you tell it or you don't. The list of journalism martyrs doesn't include Dan Rather. It does include Gary Webb, April Oliver, Robert Parry, John L. Hess, and many others.

So the notion that Cheerleader Katie is somehow degrading the evening broadcast (they're apparently afraid she'll show up on air with pom-poms) is laughable. Whether they grasp it or not, they're defending the state of news today when they trash Katie Couric's hiring as something out of bounds.

Katie Couric's hiring is more valid than Brian Williams because Couric brings an audience with her. We're going to turn to overt sexism now but, please note, bash-the-bitch is a national pastime. All who get caught up in it are not sexists. A feeding frenzy causes many to lose their grip on their better judgement. The fact that some have lost their grip and joined in the trashing doesn't make them personally sexist.

"Katie Couric's not qualified." That's the assumption that's pushed. She's not qualified because she's a woman. They won't say it bluntly and outright, however, that's what they're getting at. Even our sports bra wearing critic is saying "Couric's not qualified because she's a woman" by the context of her argument. Couric, we're told, hasn't been all over the world interviewing famous politicians. Walters, on the other hand, has done that. But our "pro-woman" writer dismisses both. Couric for not hopping the globe and Walters for . . . reasons never stated.

We don't confuse grasshopper with newscaster. We're fully aware that for years the anchor path came out of London. You became the London correspondent when you were being groomed for anchor. It gave "polish." (That's another topic commentators with broadcast experience might consider tackling.) Lack of globe trotting is cited as a reason Couric's not qualified.

It's interesting how this works. A woman, a mythical woman, can be an anchor. But a real woman, for instance, one with children, apparently can't be. It's that glass ceiling, you understand. Couric gave birth to her first child in 1991. Her decision to stay close to home for her children (especially after the death of her husband) is suddenly one of those choices that we're not to respect and we're going to call a liability.

That's what the "no globe trotting experience" nonsense is. It's not honoring women's choices. It can be dressed up in "This male has reported from Japan and from France and . . ." but it's just the usual nonsense of a woman 'can do anything' -- but to succeed she better pattern her life after a male peer. That wasn't an option for Couric and those slamming her for choosing to have a solid home base are slamming her decision to focus on her children.

That's not a choice either of us would make but, as feminists, we recognize her right to make that choice and we respect it. We are aghast that a supposed pro-woman female commentator wants to slam Couric for a personal choice without ever noting the choice Couric made.

She doesn't bring enough experience to the job of anchor? Well that depends on what you grade as experience. And sexists are quite happy to note stamps on passports but never to note the very real experience of raising children or the very real loss of a spouse. On the latter, Couric's reporting (at Today) has been stronger because of her "experience." Devaluing what a woman brings to the table isn't feminism.

Doing a set up in front of Big Ben, reading text written by someone else, doesn't round you out or give you "experience." Reciting what someone tells you in your earpiece as some upheaval goes on around you doesn't give you experience.

Let's talk Barbara Walters because Jocketta trashes her too. Again, we don't like her as a person and avoid her when we encouter her. However, Walters was a trailblazer in broadcast journalism. Ignorance doesn't give you the right to trash her accomplishments. She was not the first female co-host of Today but she was the first to carve out a solid spot for women. Knowing that she made a bunch of celebrities cry isn't an excuse for not knowing that she interviewed world leaders throughout the seventies at ABC. We don't care for her personally or politically, but we do not devalue what she accomplished. Nor do we ignore that her attempt at co-anchoring the evening news was destroyed by sexism. (Both on the set and in the country.) For all of our disagreements with Walters, we would applaud ABC announcing her as the interim anchor of World News Tonight while they figure out what they're doing. She's earned it.

It was interesting to see Couric dismissed by so many. What it reminds us of is Meredith of The View. People don't know what they're getting as the game show host transfers to Today. That's because the left offered no critique of The View. If they had, they'd grasp that something very vile is headed to morning news. If they had, reporters would be pestering the woman with questions of, "Who will apologize for you on air now that Walter's can't?" But they're apparently not aware of that because it was a show with four women (sometimes five) so obviously it wasn't to be studied or examined.

By the same token, until Media Matters came along, The Today Show (and other morning news programs) weren't the topic of serious, repeated examinations. Which is why your commentators can provide only tidbits (which read like they came from the press release CBS issued last week) or feel that Moore captured Couric in his documentary. He captured a very real aspect of morning news, he didn't capture Couric. We love Moore's film but groaned at the clip since there were many better clips to use featuring Matt Lauer.

So let's tell you what no one else will because they don't have the knowledge to. Greg Palast's wonderful book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy shocked many with its revelations. It shouldn't have shocked Today viewers throughout. In all the coverage of Couric that notes this accomplishment or that accomplishment, we're not surprised when the mainstream ignores the Florida coverage -- they ignored Florida in real time.

Couric is not "the left" and that's our biggest fear in writing this -- that someone will read this and misunderstand ("I can love her, she's the left!" or "I always knew she was one of those disgusting lefties!"). What she and others at Today did do was make a serious committment to covering Florida during the recounts. That meant covering news that pleased Republicans and that meant covering news that pleased Democrats and news that pleased no one. Those involved in the fight (and it was a fight -- not surprising after what went down as the election night/morning coverage drew to a close) wanted to provide the widest perspective they could.

This wasn't The Nation televised. This wasn't Democracy Now! goes to network TV. It was the finest coverage that broadcast or cable news offered on the situation. (Disclosure, we have many friends at Today who were involved in the fight to get that sort of coverage on air.) It's not surprising that the mainstream articles don't cover that because they weren't interested in Florida's recounts (they were interested in a rush to "closure"). But those who have no knowledge of Today would do well to familiarize themselves with that coverage before claiming Couric has no experience with breaking news or that she's just a personality. This was ongoing coverage and Couric was there when Jack Welch had his tantrum on election night/morning and back in the studio hours later to co-anchor Today. The easiest thing in the world for everyone at the program who fought hard (and they did fight hard) would have been to just toss in the towel. They could have just said, "Oh well the big boss wants Bully Boy, let's all just back away and cover something else." That didn't happen and among those deserving credit for that is Couric.

Here's another thing they don't tell you. Katie Couric moderated an on air discussion regarding the invasion of Iraq. That didn't happen on the blessed NewsHour. World News Tonight didn't provide a forum for citizens to express their feelings (pro or con) on the invasion. Today did. And Couric and staff fought for that. Not, before lefties get a soft lump in their throat, because of a position on the war but because the issue was news and because a discussion was needed. We faulted them, in real time, face to face, for not making it more than one segment and for not letting students speak more, but the fact remains that on broadcast (corporate) television, you saw that in only one place as the nation geared up for war.

Couric wasn't golfing with Poppy Bush. (So she didn't have to correct herself, on air, after denying, on air, that she had been.) Couric was never rumored to have bragged about how she was going to "get" Kitty Kelley. That's why we would have chosen a different clip from Today for Michael Moore's film. When fluff enters Today, it's often brought in by Matt Lauer. The former weatherman has no problem with news exploding in his face because, as someone who predicted the weather and often got it wrong, he's used to being wrong and used to never apologizing. That's why he can turn to the camera and repeatedly announce how great it is to bring you "good news" such as a kidnap victim being found! Even when people who know the victim and a police official tried to caution him on air, Laurer was in feel-good "No rain tomorrow!" mode. There wasn't a lot of concern when that story blew up in his face, but there never is.

We're not saying Couric doesn't get things wrong. We are saying, and talking to anyone at Today would bear this out, that she does work at her job. She does prepare for it. Those clippings on air aren't props.

Currently, there's a mini-battle of the wills going on. Bob Woodward and David Corn are in debate over what Woody did or didn't do. Woody claims he got it right in his book (which he laughably plugs like crazy throughout his response) and that the Downing Street Memo and other recent reports do not contradict what he said in his snooze of stenography. He argues for his journalistic reputation. (Well someone has to.) Corn would do well to examine an interview Woody gave on Today. Woody's defense for not reporting the truth when it happens is that he saves his stories for his books and not the paper. That doesn't allow for lying (we'll use the word) on air. If he's going on air, he needs to tell the truth. He didn't in one interview. He spoke of "calcium of the backbone" (the Bully Boy's alleged calcium of the backbone) repeatedly to the point that Couric finally had to interrupt him and ask him to put that claim aside.

Now, and Corn should follow this up, is "calcium in the backbone" a premeditated decision to go to war? Viewers weren't told any of the things that Woody now claims he knew (and would later report in his book). Yet, with the war going to hell, Woody wants to act as though he always got it right. He cheerleaded the war and he may be fortunate that he didn't do so on the page of the Washington Post; however, as with his commentaries to listeners and viewers on Plamegate, he left a lot unsaid that he should have disclosed. More than that, his "calicium in the backbone" argument disguised reality.

That moment in TV history goes unremarked upon because it's largely undocumented by the left. But it did take place. (We would advise Corn to use a transcript because Woody's dipthong is annoying and still haunts us.) There's a lot that took place but, just as Meredith will get a pass for xenophobia and other offensive comments, Couric's own accomplishment won't be noted -- because neither program was considered worthy of study by the left.

Yet now that Couric is going to the evening news, suddenly voices from all sides want to slam her. Since Jocketta couldn't offer any examples (despite her claim) of women worthy to anchor the news, we spoke to female producers and on air news personalities at CNN, CBS and ABC. (We avoided NBC, in all of its configurations, due to the war against Couric NBC conducted in an attempt to decrease her value enough for CBS to lose interest.) Producers were the most vocal, especially those with children, who noted that they alternated the trips around the country and abroad with periods where they could be home with their children ("a responsibility no man ever talks about" one noted). But the question on every woman's mind was exactly who did qualify after you've eliminated every woman from Katie Couric to Barbara Walters?

They're not, as one on air pointed out, going to give the job to Linda Ellerbee (who is respected among peers but dead to the networks). It was thought that Lesley Stahl has had some nice moments of late on 60 Minutes but her connections to the attacks on Social Security wouldn't go over well with those aware of them. (A problem for a number of names of a certain age.) They racked their brains to come up with one name but couldn't. Connie Chung was damaged goods (first from the fights with Rather who didn't want a co-host, then from CNN's attempts to turn her into "Connie!").

It was noted that ABC had stood behind Elizabeth Vargas originally but, with the tragedies Bob Woodruff experienced while attempting to report from Iraq, they seem to be weakening their show of support in the face of the news that she's pregnant. The word for that, as pointed out repeatedly, is "sexism." When a woman's job may be in jeopardy because she's pregnant, that's sexism. Family leave guidelines aside, her pregnancy has resulted in whispers of ABC's losing support for/interest in her as an anchor.

As one woman at ABC put it, "If you're beyond child bearing years, you're 'too old' to be an anchor. If you get pregnant, you're not committed to your job."

Let's be clear that we're not defending TV news. We never would. Katie Couric is now queen, but as Cher repeatedly noted during her time at the top of TV in the seventies, "I'm queen of a crappy medium." That applies to TV news as well with few exceptions (historically and now, though some try to kid). You're telling a story to what you see as a largely uninformed audience and you're doing it in less and less time. There's not even a pretense of interest in international events (from the executive suites) at this point.

But the announcement of Couric as the new anchor is a chance to blast her. Because? Not due to her own work which the commentators seem unfamiliar with. Not due to the nature of the historical tragedy that is TV news (which is even worse on the morning shows). But because she didn't go global. That's not the issue and Jocketta damn well knows it. If it were the issue, Barbara Walters (who went global more than many and was a first, for this country, at getting those international leaders to speak on camera to women) wouldn't also be disqualified by Jocketta. What it comes down to is that Katie Couric's life involved choices and there's no respect for the choices she made.

A mother anchoring the news. A mother with young children. That's not "experience" in their book. Experience is only what the White Male defines it as. That definition isn't feminism. We've avoided noting Couric's own opinions in this (nor did we speak to her for this) but we will note that one of her concerns when the issue of anchoring was first brought up was how it would effect her children?

That's a concern for many women when they consider a job transfer or promotion. But that doesn't cut it for "experience" in the White Male world. Could that result in a new level of understanding in evening news when potential stories about working mothers are considered?
The White Male critique says it doesn't matter, says it's not an issue. Which is strange when you consider the number of working mothers in this country (and, in fact, worldwide). What about the input she can bring on issues of working women, on issues of grief, on issues of medical treatments and medical spending?

Those apparently don't matter either. It just matters whether or not she was "groomed" by being made a London correspondent. That matters. Alan Cowell, London correspondent for The New York Times, can't find a story with both hands and it staring him in the face. But apparently he would have the sort of "experience" that's necessary for the job.

See, a man in London (and traveling other places) has a world wide 'understanding.' A working mother with children, apparently, can't grasp anything. The message is: Your life experiences have offered no insight, have offered nothing. It goes to what we value and what we don't. In this instance, the commentators aren't valuing the very real experiences of women. Translation, neither David Brinkley nor Chet Huntley were ever pregnant so what can pregnancy or motherhood teach anyone?

Katie Couric is not going to make TV news "soft and fuzzy." Those with that concern not only do not know their history, they've also obviously never watched Dateline. It's a crap medium with declining ratings and when the prestige leaves any occupation, women are allowed to enter. Let's be serious. But let's also note that a woman's experiences can enrich their own understanding and that of others.

It honestly reminds us of all the (male written) movie reviews praising various male-coming-of-age stories as "universal." Male is still the measurement. In 2006, it's still the measurement. What Couric has done, something most of the commentators are unaware of, doesn't matter. It only matters if she meets the White Male template mistakenly hailed as "universal."

There was a time when those sexist standards were questioned. It's a shame to see so many accept those standards as articles of faith. That doesn't mean that all participating are sexist. (We think Jocketta is, at the very least, a masculinist.) What happens is someone offers a critique. It's funny. It's a fun topic. So people rush to weigh in. And when the bulls eye is a woman, it gets plenty of attention.

Katie Couric, who has yet to debut on the evening news, is not responsible for the state of evening news. Nor is the sorry state a recent development. (Why do you think Bill Moyers moved to PBS in the first place?) We respect and admire the work Amy Goodman does. As a result we wouldn't curse her with the wish that she anchored an evening newscast on corporate media. Democracy Now! would not be the same program on one of the big three because network news has never been interested in covering the topics Goodman covers. That was true before Democracy Now! and why Goodman and others had to work so hard to end the blackout on East Timor. For those who want to look the other way (many did for years), your evening news didn't provide you with that story. It took independent journalists (and activists) to make that news. From 1975 to 1991, the evening news wasn't concerned with the realities in East Timor. You want to make a list of our White Male Gods who anchored during that period? Do so and then come talk to us about brave corporate journalism.

As two who've grown up around journalism, we know the scandals, we know the things that just aren't discussed. We don't kid ourselves about the state of corporate media or that the narrowing we've seen in recent years represents anything other than a narrowing (not, as some would have you believe, a devastating blow to a brave medium). We're aware, for instance, that all the mash notes for Mike Wallace fail to note where he "developed" (stole -- from a woman, naturally) his interview "style." In an early version of this (distributed to members of The Common Ills community) we noted which brave newsmen were bed wetters in junior high, who warmed the bench and other tidbits that are as relevant to the current discussion of Couric as some of the nonsense that's been put out. We also noted that Couric's experiences have never been used as a weapon (in the manner of clutch-the-pearls artiste Cokie Roberts who is so fond of issuing orders to the public by intoning "As a mother . . ."). The experiences have, however, allowed some perspectives to enter the coverage that would otherwise by silenced. (And had been for many years.)

We noted that Couric has yet to advocate censoring the news because children might be watching. However, Brian Williams did just that, on The Tonight Show, before taking over from Tom Brokaw on NBC's Nightly News. It's a funny sort of criticism going around where a man can advocate censorship and raise no hackles but a woman, as widely noted, who has moved beyond the accepted limits (because information needs to be provided) is slammed.

Couric's not made xenophobic statements, she's not hosted a game show. She has legs and favors skirts which is apparently a sign of a mortal flaw. The Lord and Savior Walter Cronkite never had his bare legs shown while anchoring the news! And that apparently is the measurement. What a man did. How he did it. Why he did it. That's the "norm." That's the "universal." Only it's not. And it never was. But the cries of "she's destroying the news!" (note the "she") are so much more fun than addressing the reality of broadcast journalims (historical and modern day).

If women learned anything from the trashing of Katie Couric last week, it was that today, we're all cheerleaders. In their eyes, we're all cheerleaders. Our own work isn't addressed and there's no desire to familiarize themselves with it before weighing in. Call us when it's our turn to stand trial at the war crimes tribunal.

No Voice for the Village

If you missed the news, Micah's called The Village Voice's time of death. What?? If you asked that question you obviously missed Democracy Now!'s "Village Voice Shakeup: Top Investigative Journalist Fired, Prize-Winning Writers Resign Following Merger with New Times Media." So now The Voice is part of a syndicate that brings about as many good things to life as G.E. What can you expect in the new and watered down Voice? A lot of the crap that the syndicate's other "alternative" weeklies offer. Here's our take on what we're sure we'll be the future of the weekly. Some of spoofs are based on the past publication history of New Times Media. One is based on a current story, one that required 'investigative' journalism and lots of leg work so you just know it has to be about an important topic, one affecting us all, right? Wrong. Add generic, grainy photo to the proposed cover items below.

New 'Tude Media presents . . .



Them Wacky Black Folks Always Got Their Hands Out!
An African-American claims a corporation owes him big bling-bling!
We side with the corporation and kick him to the
curb by recounting every messy episode
we can dig up from his dead mother's life!
Investigative journalism at its finest!
by Skip and Muffy Mayflower

Second period! Pavol Demitra scored on a breakaway!
Los Angeles grabs 2-1 victory! In your face, Calgary!
In your face!
by Chris Generic

Topher was on the honor roll at his all White school,
Whites Only, in a quiet suburb. He had it all.
He had a girlfriend (with a wealthy family, like his own).
He drove a BMW. He was captain of his football team.
She was a cheerleader. Then he discovered
a deadly cocktail: 'roids and meth. As his
girlfriend vows to wait for him, Topher enters
an upscale rehab. We take a hard hitting look
at what this may mean for Whites Only's
varsity football team this fall. Warning: This heart
tearing story will have you quaking in
your Pradas.
by Tiffany Buckley

Pink's I'm Not Dead is a masterpiece! We give
all the credit to Billy Mann!
Chris Generic
Also: Chris tells you what's in Hip-Hop for
White people!

The only thing missing from Friends With Money
is Meg Ryan to make this the total chick-flick disaster
of the year. Somebody tells the girls,
"Take it off or shut up!" That's what I'm
talking about.

Consumer reporter Betsy Faulkner delves into
the issue of 2000 Flushes and you won't believe
what her probe of the toilet tank unearths!
1999 flushes, not the promised 2000!

Quick Take: Scalia

Stephanie Reitz' "Scalia Stands by Decision in Cheney Case" (Associated Press):

Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Wednesday called his 2004 decision not to recuse himself from a case involving Vice President Dick Cheney the "proudest thing" he's done on the court.

In a long life, with little accomplishments, he had to point something.

Pacifica Radio Highlights

Pacifica Radio highlights for the week.

Via Ruth's most recent Public Radio Report:

KPFA's Sunday Salon will cover the following this Sunday (9:00 a.m. Pacific time, 11:00 a.m. Central, and noon Eastern time) :

First HourIn our first hour...
Imagine being one of several dozen women incarcerated with thousands of men. Harassment, humiliation, and in many cases, rape, are all a part of the daily routine. So is being called "sir." Outside of prison, transgender folks often face a hurtful lack of understanding; inside prison, that lackof understanding can be life-threatening...
Attorney Alex Lee of the Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project joins us, and others, to be confirmed.
Second HourIn our second hour...
Its been 100 years since the 1906 Earthquake. And 1989 -- when the last big one hit the Bay Area -- isn't recent history, either. Time to dust off your earthquake-preparedness savvy...
Our guests Ana-Marie Jones of Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters, Kiska Icard of the San Francisco SPCA, and others will remind you how to get yourself, your home, and your family -- including its non-human members -- ready for a rumbler.
Listen to past shows, get contact and reference info for guests, see announcements of upcoming programs, and more at:

Sandra Lupien of KPFA's The Morning Show will fill in for Mr. Bensky as this Sunday's host.

KPFA is celebrating its 57th year and also on KPFA today (time given is Pacific):

6:30 pm
Radio Chronicles

See all Drama and Literature Programming
Radio Chronicles brings "Camp KPFA".
A look back at the KPFA-FM lock-out by Pacifica Radio, which took place July l5, 1999, inciting arrests, protests, and a nationwide campaign to save independent media and the country's most unique free speech radio station. First person accounts from the radio listener activists who barricaded themselves to KPFA's doors, and lived in the streets throughout those lock-out days.

On WBAI today (time given is Eastern):

6:30-7:00 pm: Equal Time for Freethought
Easter Day Special--Suffering, Salvation, Sexuality, & Spring: Or, are we the only ones who think the image of Jesus crucified, naked, tortured, and dripping with blood, is bursting with sadomasochistic overtures?
At this time of year it's common to see depictions of the brutal suffering of Jesus on the cross presented as a holy and glorious moment for humankind.
Yet the torment of Christ as an expression of God's love enabling humankind to be "cleansed of its sin" and "saved" is merely the official meaning of the brutal story that is primary to Western culture.
Passover which also takes place at this time of year also offers it's own share of blood and violence which is also presented as the expression of a loving God's plan.
To what extent might religious and spiritual traditions that glorify suffering and denial of our physical needs result in generalized violence and cruelty in our society?
Is there a relationship between the violence in faith based practices and people's unacknowledged psycho-sexual desires?
Might there be better ways to address such needs than to simply deny that they exist?
To help us examine this question we will have joining us Ms. Dorothy Hayden, a trained social worker, psychoanalyst and a practicing psychotherapist here in Manhattan, whose advice column "Black Leather Couch" appeared in the New York S&M scene's publication "Prometheus Magazine."
Also, back by popular demand, we will replay the classic showdown between the Easter Bunny and Jesus Christ himself!
So, tune in, pay it forward, and question everything with Equal Time for Freethought, Sunday at 6:00pm, on WBAI - 99.5 FM - streaming live at
Barry F. Seidman

Exec. Producer: Equal Time for Freethought

Throughout this week (Monday through Friday), KPFT offers the following on Open Journal (airs at noon Central time):

April 17
Local Station Board Report
April 18

Hep C Show
April 19

Building Environmental Community
With Reginald Adams
April 20

Waking Up from the American Dream
Sustainability Issues with Flora Yeh
April 21

Religious Voices for Peace and Justice
With Herb Rothschild

Final Pacifica Radio note. Upcoming in June, Pacifica launches a daily news hour in Espanol. Support independent media.

Musings and thoughts on why you should be watching/listening/reading Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: It's very good to have you with us. Well, let's talk about your vantage point, from having served on the Church Committee. And for young people who are watching or listening right now, they may have never have heard of this committee.
GARY HART: Basically, what the country is going through now is a rerun of what happened during periods of the Vietnam War, in which largely the Nixon administration undertook illegal activities to place American citizens under surveillance and accuse them of unpatriotic conduct, and justifying support for the war -- using support for the war as a justification for violation of constitutional rights and liberties. So, what's happening now is a rerun of history, in effect.
AMY GOODMAN: And at that time, can you talk about some of the things that you uncovered? You've been writing about it, talking about deja vu all over again.
GARY HART: Well, I think the most startling discovery of our committee -- and let me just put that committee in context. There had never been genuine congressional oversight of the intelligence community in the United States since the C.I.A. was formed in 1947. By and large, members of Congress did not want to know what was going on. When press leaks of unconstitutional behavior on the part of the administration occurred, there was public demand for some kind of investigation. That's what led to our committee.
We had eleven members -- six Democrats, five Republicans -- including the late Barry Goldwater and others, and we began a unique undertaking which was to try to find out what the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. and N.S.A. and others were up to. And it was during that that the most startling revelations had to do with our efforts to assassinate foreign leaders, particularly Fidel Castro, over two or three administrations, and this massive scheme to surveil American citizens. AMY GOODMAN: Can you elaborate on that, the attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro?
GARY HART: Well, it's a long, long story, obviously. With almost demented insistence, we tried to kill him. What we spent our time doing, once we discovered these plots, was to find out who ordered it. And to this day, I don't think anyone ever found out where the instructions came from or whether the officials in the C.I.A. and other agencies just simply decided on their own. There clearly was indication that President Kennedy and his brother wanted --
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Kennedy.
GARY HART: -- Castro gone. Robert Kennedy. But they never, to our knowledge, they never said, 'Kill him.' It's one thing to say we want somebody out of office, another thing to say assassination. And we found no record that an assassination order was ever given by the president.
AMY GOODMAN: And the killing of Kennedy?
GARY HART: Well, it was outside our mandate to go back and reopen the Warren Commission. We had no authority to do that, but former senator Schweiker and myself undertook a kind of subcommittee effort to see if there was any connection between the efforts to kill Castro and President Kennedy's subsequent death, and we found some evidence that was new, but nothing that was determinative. I think the real question that we were trying to get at was why would the C.I.A. employ senior Mafia figures in this effort? And that was rather startling discovery on our part.

The above is from Amy Goodman's interview with former US Senator Gary Hart which aired on Democracy Now! March 28, 2006 ("Fmr. Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Gary Hart: 'Both Houses of Congress Belong to the President's Party'"). Did you see it on the Evening News? On Nightly News? On World News Tonight? No. Which is why we agree with Ava and C.I.'s point in another feature in this edition that we wouldn't curse Amy Goodman by wishing she anchored on a corporate news network.

Let's back up for anyone new to Amy Goodman (or her co-host Juan Gonzalez). Democracy Now! is an hourly broadcast that airs Monday through Friday. Where can you watch it? At the site online. On public access television around the country. On some PBS stations. On Direct TV and Free Speech TV. Maybe you prefer listening? You can listen online at the website. You can listen on Pacifica Radio stations (over the airwaves and online). You can listen on community radio stations and on some NPR stations. Not able to do that? Your computer doesn't handle streaming? Well, online at the Democracy Now! website, you can read transcripts.

So what's your excuse for not checking it out? (We hope you have none because you already are checking it out.)

If you're not checking it out, what did you miss last week? How much time do you have? Wait, how much time do we have?

For one thing you missed an interview with Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker on Bully Boy's planning for bombing Iran. "Oh," you say, "I saw him on 360 with Anderson Cooper this week."
Ah yes, the soundbyte as dialogue. Trust us, you missed out. How about Gustavo Jiminez?

Please don't tell us you asked who? He is one of the student leaders in the walkouts that have taken place across the nation.

And speaking of activism, how about the people of St. Augustine Parish? They got the Church reopened. They had to fight for days and days . . . What? You don't know about the flihgt against the Church's flight from New Orleans?

Huh. Well that net neutrality issue, that's pretty big, right? Without it the "information highway" will be come a toll road, know what we're saying? You missed that too?

We'll we're sure you got valuable information from your news source. You must have heard about the trouble going down at The Village Voice, though, right? Nothing on that?

Exactly what did your news programming provide you with this week? Oh, you got a clip of Diane Sawyer's then upcoming interview with Tom Cruise? Sweet! We bet that help put food on your table and keep you informed.

What's that you say? That's the least of your problems? Well unload, we've got a few minutes.

"There I was," you say, "with the nation on the eve of the war, trying to get the facts about what was going on and what the issues were. I was watching the evening news, I was watching the cable news, I even watched the NewsHour and their bump-bump-bah-bump bumper music gives me a headache. So I put in all that time and now it turns out, it was all a waste. Everything they said -- repeated, whatever! Lies. I was lied into war! I spent all that time watching these programs that were supposed to inform me and all I got was like way uninformed!"

Interesting. And yet you still watch those programs.

Here's the thing, viewers (and listeners and readers) of Democracy Now! knew there was administration spin and then there were actual realities. We didn't get blindsided because there was discussion, there was debate, there was much more than "Today our fearless leader stated . . ."

So let us repeat: And yet you still watch those programs?

Amy Goodman doesn't need a corporate network behind her. What she and Juan Gonzalez and the staff of Democracy Now! do could never fly on corporate news where the only voices that matter are those in office or those who've just left offices (appointed or elected). Now there's a time to utilize those voices. But they shouldn't become the only voices out there. Or, as Amy Goodman has repeatedly noted, ex-generals shouldn't be regular guests (on the payroll of the broadcasters, no less) when peace activists are left uninvited.

Everyone makes a mistake. That's not the issue here. A mistake can be corrected. You say, "We reported wrongly . . ." and can move on. But what was practiced by corporate news wasn't a "mistake" in reporting -- implying they got a detail wrong as they attempted to convey a total picture. To convey a total picture, they would have had to have listened and given space to dissenting voices (as prominent as the space they gave to those supporting the war). They didn't do that. The mistake wasn't in one report. The mistake was their concept of reporting itself which is acting as a newsletter for those in office.

World News Tonight For and By the Government would be a better title. Nightly News For The Beltway is another example. The Evening News If You Matter to Us.

So having been misled, why are you still relying on the same news sources. As the Bully Boy infamously said (or maybe we misunderstood him), "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, I'm a corporate news whore." Something like that anyway.

Laura Flanders is on vacation so we thought we'd use this week to note Amy Goodman and the decision was based in part upon this by Elaine:

I'll note a moment of panic today during Democracy Now! that Sunny and I both had. Amy Goodman was coughing and had to take a break. Before she came back, Sunny and I were both pointing out that the show broadcasts not far from ground zero in NYC and remembering this item from Thursday:
"Report: 15,000 Suffer From Medical Problems in NYC Post 9/11" (Democracy Now!):
In other news, the BBC is reporting the number of victims suffering medical problems in connection to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center has risen to at least 15,000 people. The US government has been hit with a class-action lawsuit that alleges it offered false assurances to Manhattan residents and workers that the air was safe in the aftermath of the attacks. In a landmark ruling, a New Jersey coroner said this week that a police officer's death was "directly linked" to his work at Ground Zero after 9/11. The officer, James Zadroga, died in January.
When she came back, she explained that she had a spring cold. (I think that probably comes from the fact that she's all over the country, getting the word out, covering news and doing outreach work for community media.) We both sighed in relief when she said that. Amy Goodman, who celebrated a birthday Thursday, does so much for indymedia and, if you found yourself worried in that moment, do your part to get the word out or do your part to get the word out because she had a birthday. But get the word out. Twenty years from now, due to further media consolidation (I think it will happen short of a major citizen revolution), the media landscape will have changed. I also think it's true that, twenty years from now, we'll see hundreds of Amy Goodmans because she's made a difference and she's demonstrated the role that journalists can and should play. She's altered the landscape and become a role model.

That cough was a scary moment. But on the week of Amy Goodman's birthday, a number of us were noting the realities of what DN! provides and the realities of the attention it gets (or, more often, doesn't get). As C.I. noted:

The left can be critiqued (in any manner, in any tone) by the left -- that's not a problem. What's a problem is repeating easy slams from the right, distortions made by the right, to prove how "reasonable" you are. (Also not helpful is taking a story Democracy Now! covers -- and covers well -- and instead noting the mainstream as though they just broke news or discovered a topic. A point Cedric wants noted but one that I'm sure the community will agree with. This week alone, Amy Goodman's interviewed Seymour Hersh, Greg Palast -- and shown some of his BBC report -- and others while she and Juan Gonzalez have addressed the issue of the Village Voice. The attention level Democracy Now! receives could be upped by about a thousand and still not note the degree to which this program breaks ground daily. Irritating to members is reading statements such as "NPR just did a really wonderful report that was groundbreaking and blah blah blah" when in fact the topic was covered by DN! and other Pacifica Radio programs days, weeks, months ago. There's a lot of stroking NPR from our left print set. Not a great deal of support for Pacifica Radio.)

So are you complaining about how the corporate media failed you but still using it as your primary source for news? How much sense does that make?

Quick Media Take

We need thoughtful criticism, not knee-jerk media bashing
Dallas Morning News
"Whether you are on the right or the left, take off the media conspiracy goggles," writes Steve Blow. "They distort everything. The same reporters and editors are on the job today as when [President] Bush had some of the highest approval ratings in history. There wasn't a conspiracy to pump him up then. There's no conspiracy to bring him down now."
Posted at 9:36:00 AM

E-mail this item QuickLink this item: A99878

[Item from Romeneskso media column at PoynterOnline.]

Yes, the same ones are "on the job." Including Blow, who in 2003, compared protestors against the war to traitors. Two readers wonder if, as long as he's weighing in on the past, Blow can explain how people identified as being pro-peace or anti-Bush (or both) ended up being trashed, we're sure it was an accident, in local columns? The Dixie Chicks? Michael Moore? Moore's Oscar acceptance speech took place in Dallas? We're confused. But so was the columnist who said she'd rather watch sports than the Oscars when she attempted to navigate the topic for readers.

Hey, so eager was the Dallas Morning News to trash Sheryl Crow (for the peace guitar strap?) that they invented a claim of how Christina A should have had Crow's Grammy nomination that year -- even though the big A wasn't eligible due to release date rules!

Best of all may have been an insulting column that (mis)informed readers that women in India wear the "dot" on the forehead to signify their marital status.

Those freaky columnists -- proving yet again that those with brain wave patterns need not to apply to many of our daily papers.

Blow, who's dubbed "Hippie With A Hard On For War" by readers Casey and Heather who e-mailed the item, was a war cheerleader from the start. A recent column on Falluja also caused eye rolls. Where there's blood and destruction, Casey and Heather write, "There's Blow, toking up on the buzz of a good bloodletting."

Blow has wondered, publicly, "how we ended up so polarized"? Maybe because of his and his cohorts "accidental" but consistent attacks on any who questioned the war?

When Poodles Snarl

Two high strung poodles. Cannot, REPEAT CANNOT, be sold as a set. Both are neutered and prone to barking at non-existant threats. Be advised: The yapping cannot be curtailed. Must be kept well groomed -- high maintenance. Known to attack one another and their own reflections.

"Liberals hate America!" whined Not Quite Anonymous.

"Oh that is just like NQA to conflate liberals in the Democratic Party with America haters!" sniffed What Lisping Media.

"I said 'left-wing'!" screamded NQA.

"The Nation is not a part of the left-wing of the Democratic Party! They supported Ralph Nader! They do not hate America, except for Alexander Cockburn!" responded WLM laughing at his own joke (since no one else will).

Two poodles squaring off. And America's supposed to give a damn?

One came to uber-fame on the back of a book he lied about writing (in the old days, that lie would get you drummed out of the press -- in World 'o Luce, it makes you a columnist). The other never made an argument without attempting to figure out how it polled first.

Two fey pets of the chattering class, hiking up their legs to 'baptize' one another and be sure that they get a little attention. (Pets need attention. If you're not able to devote time to one, you shouldn't take it home.)

One churns out useless thoughts for a useless magazine. The other still can't get away from the hoots and hollers over his lament that some in the press "malign West Side elitist liberals like me."

One barks, the other lisps.

Running on Empty from NYC vs. Full of Beans from Queens!

The chattering class. Can't be informed by them, can't inform them.

Sexto ex comandante militar pide reununcia de Rumsfeld

Sexto ex comandante militar pide renuncia de Rumsfeld

Maria: Buenos dias. De parte de "Democracy Now!" diaz cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.
Sexto ex comandante militar pide renuncia de Rumsfeld
En Estados Unidos, otro militar retirado de alto rango pidió públicamente la renuncia del Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld. En una entrevista con el New York Times, el general Charles Swannack Jr. dijo: "No creo que el Secretario Rumsfeld sea la persona indicada para pelear esa guerra, teniendo en cuenta sus completos fracasos en lo que refiere al manejo de la guerra contra Saddam en Irak". Hasta el 2004, Swannack era comandante de la 82º División Aerotransportadora del Ejército. Swannack es ahora el sexto general retirado que ha pedido la renuncia de Rumsfeld durante las últimas semanas. El jueves, el portavoz de la Casa Blanca, Scott McClellan, defendió a Rumsfeld alegando que está haciendo un "muy buen trabajo".
La Casa Blanca no habla sobre afirmación de la existencia de laboratorios de armas en Irak
El jueves, por segundo día consecutivo, el portavoz de la Casa Blanca Scott McClellan no pudo decirle a los periodistas cuándo se informó al Presidente Bush -- o a otros funcionarios del gobierno -- que una misión de investigación del Pentágono no había encontrado laboratorios móviles de armas biológicas en Irak. La fecha en que se presentó el informe sobre la misión está bajo intenso escrutinio. Sólo dos días después de que el informe fuera presentado, el Presidente Bush dijo que los laboratorios demostraban que Estados Unidos había descubierto armas de destrucción masiva en Irak. El Presidente y otros funcionarios del gobierno continuaron con su afirmación errónea durante más de un año, y nunca dijeron que ésta había sido cuestionada.
2 millones de personas marchan en Día Nacional de Acción por la Justicia para los Inmigrantes
El lunes, dos millones de personas salieron a las calles en más de 100 ciudades y localidades de todo el país, para marchar por los derechos de los inmigrantes. Trabajadores indocumentados, inmigrantes legales, sindicatos de trabajo, defensores de los derechos de los inmigrantes y quienes los apoyan, llevaron a cabo manifestaciones en lo que fue llamado el Día Nacional de Acción por la Justicia para los Inmigrantes. En Nueva York, más de mil manifestantes cruzaron el Puente de Brooklyn y colmaron las calles del Bajo Manhattan, para llevar a cabo una protesta cerca del edificio de la Alcaldía. En Atlanta, 80.000 personas inundaron las calles. En Phoenix, se calcula que 100.000 personas se congregaron en el Capitolio de Arizona; otras 25.000 personas marcharon en Madison, Wisconsin; 10.000 en Boston y 8.000 en Omaha, Nebraska. Las protestas del lunes se produjeron luego de un día de manifestaciones en San Diego, Miami, Birmingham, Alabama, Utah, Idaho y Iowa. Medio millón de personas participaron en una protesta en Dallas, lo que la convirtió en la mayor manifestación en la historia de la ciudad. En Washington DC, cientos de miles de personas pasaron frente a la Casa Blanca, para dirigirse a una protesta en el centro comercial National Mall. La manifestación tuvo lugar a pocos metros del Capitolio, donde la semana pasada los senadores no lograron un acuerdo con respecto a la amplia reforma de inmigración, que le daría a los más de 11 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados que viven en Estados Unidos la oportunidad de trabajar legalmente en este país, y convertirse finalmente en ciudadanos estadounidenses.
Coalición por los derechos de los inmigrantes exhorta a boicot y protestas durante un día
Una coalición de grupos que defienden los derechos de los inmigrantes está exhortando a un boicot laboral y económico masivo durante un día, que se llevaría a cabo el 1 de mayo. Algunos llaman a este evento "Un día sin inmigrantes". Los organizadores están instando a los inmigrantes a que se nieguen a trabajar o a gastar dinero durante este día, para protestar contra las acciones del Congreso que buscan criminalizar a los trabajadores indocumentados. Durante las últimas semanas, millones de inmigrantes y quienes los apoyan han salido a las calles, en una ola de protestas sin precedentes.
Médico de la Real Fuerza Aérea encarcelado por negarse a servir en Irak
En Gran Bretaña, un médico de la Real Fuerza Aérea fue condenado a ocho meses de prisión por negarse a ir a Irak. El teniente de aviación Malcolm Kendall-Smith, sostuvo que se niega a cumplir con la misión que se le asignó porque no quiere formar parte de una guerra ilícita.
Informe: el gobierno de Bush planea ataque nuclear contra Irán
En medio de informes de que el gobierno de Bush planea atacar las instalaciones nucleares de Irán, aumentan las especulaciones sobre un posible ataque militar. En un importante artículo publicado en la revista "New Yorker", el periodista investigador Seymour Hersh dice que hay una creciente convicción en la comunidad diplomática y de defensa de que el cambio de régimen es el principal objetivo del gobierno de Bush en el estancamiento de las negociaciones nucleares con Irán. Un ex funcionario de defensa de alto rango, dijo que los planes militares del gobierno de Bush se basan en la esperanza de que "una campaña de bombardeos constantes a Irán humillará a los líderes religiosos y provocará que la población se subleve y derroque al gobierno". Y agregó: "Me impactó oír esto, y me pregunté ¿Qué están fumando?".
Bush no niega planes de atacar Irán
En sus primeros comentarios públicos sobre Irán -desde que surgieron informes de que su gobierno estaba planeando un ataque- el Presidente Bush descartó estas afirmaciones, pero no las negó explícitamente: “La doctrina de prevención es trabajar juntos para impedir que los iraníes tengan armas nucleares. Yo sé, sé que estamos en Washington, y ya saben, [aquí] prevención significa fuerza. Pero no necesariamente significa fuerza. En este caso, significa diplomacia. Y por cierto, leí los artículos publicados en los periódicos este fin de semana. Sólo había especulaciones absurdas, por cierto. Lo que están leyendo son especulaciones absurdas, que como ya saben, pasa muy a menudo aquí en la capital del país”. Este asunto atrajo atención nuevamente tras la publicación en la revista "New Yorker" de un nuevo artículo escrito por el periodista investigador Seymour Hersh. El artículo cita a funcionarios de defensa diciendo que el gobierno de Bush trazó planes minuciosos para utilizar armas tácticas contra las instalaciones nucleares iraníes. Seymour Hersh también estuvo el lunes en Washington, donde habló sobre la posibilidad de un ataque estadounidense. Hersh dijo: “Están llevando a cabo lo que ellos llaman planeamiento operativo, en el cual hay campañas de bombardeo serias, consecuentes y cuidadosamente planeadas, y lo que se les ocurra. Quiero decir, no se han tomado decisiones con respecto a qué hacer, pero no son solo vanas esperanzas, son cosas serias”.
Bush criticado por afirmar erróneamente que Estados Unidos encontró laboratorios de armas móviles en Irak
La Casa Blanca está bajo una intensa inspección, luego que el "Washington Post" reveló que el gobierno continuó afirmando que había descubierto laboratorios biológicos móviles en Irak, incluso después de que un equipo de investigadores del Pentágono había concluido que no se habían encontrado dichos laboratorios. El 27 de mayo de 2003, el Pentágono informó sobre sus hallazgos. Dos días después, Bush dijo: “Encontramos las armas de destrucción masiva. Encontramos laboratorios biológicos”. Días después, el Secretario de Estado Colin Powell, afirmó: “Ya descubrimos fábricas biológicas móviles... No tenemos ninguna duda que ese era su propósito. A nadie se le ocurrió otro propósito que tenga sentido”. El gobierno de Bush continuó con su afirmación errónea durante más de un año.
En Washington, el Secretario de Prensa Scott McClellan intentó voltear la controversia de los laboratorios móviles criticando a la prensa por cubrir una noticia basada en lo que fue descrito como una repetición, información vieja. McClellan calificó a la noticia como una “vergüenza para la prensa” y como una muestra de irresponsabilidad, porque el gobierno de Bush ya había admitido que la información sobre Irak en el período previo a la guerra era errónea. Pero McClellan no pudo contestar si el Presidente tenía conocimiento de las conclusiones del Pentágono, antes de afirmar públicamente que los tráileres demostraban que Irak tenía armas de destrucción masiva.
Powell admite que nunca creyó que Irak representaba una amenaza nuclear inminente
Mientras tanto, el ex Secretario de Estado, Colin Powell, ahora admite que ni él ni sus asesores creían que Irak representaba una amenaza nuclear inminente antes de la invasión estadounidense. En una entrevista con el periodista Robert Scheer, Powell dijo que las afirmaciones sobre el riesgo nuclear efectuadas por el Vicepresidente Dick Cheney y por la CIA convencieron al Presidente. Powell dijo: “La CIA ejercía mucha presión con el argumento de los tubos de aluminio, y Cheney apoyó esta postura en lugar de apoyar lo que escribió nuestra gente”. Cuando le preguntaron acerca de la afirmación errónea del Presidente Bush de que Saddam Hussein intentó comprarle material nuclear a Níger en su discurso del Estado de la Unión, Powell supuestamente respondió: “Nunca se debió mencionar eso en el discurso... Yo nunca lo creí”.
Reverendo William Sloane Coffin Jr. muere a los 81 años
El reverendo William Sloane Coffin Jr. murió a los 81 años de edad. Durante los últimos 50 años, fue un destacado activista en contra de la guerra, y fue defensor de los derechos civiles. Como capellán de la Universidad de Yale durante la década del 60, criticó la Guerra de Vietnam y defendió fuertemente el uso de la desobediencia civil como forma de protesta contra la misma. En uno de los juicios célebres de la década del 60, Coffin fue acusado -junto con el Dr. Benjamín Spock y otras personas- de conspirar para fomentar la evasión del alistamiento obligatorio. También fue un seguidor del Reverendo Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., y participó en algunas de las primeras Freedom Rides (viajes en autobús efectuados por grupos multirraciales de jóvenes, que buscaban poner a prueba la segregación racial). El valor, predicó por años, era la principal virtud, porque “hace posible todas las otras virtudes”. En la década del 70, se convirtió en el principal pastor de la iglesia de Riverside en Nueva York, y en la década del 80 jugó un papel clave en el movimiento antinuclear.
Maria: Good morning. Now in English, here are ten stories from Democracy Now! Peace.
6th Ex-Military Commander Calls For Rumsfeld's Resignation
Here in the United States, another high-ranking retired military commander has publicly called for the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In an interview with the New York Times, Major General Charles Swannack Jr. said: "I do not believe Secretary Rumsfeld is the right person to fight that war based on his absolute failures in managing the war against Saddam in Iraq." Up until 2004, Swannack was the commander of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. He is now the sixth retired general to call for Rumsfeld's resignation in recent weeks. On Thursday White House spokesperson Scott McClellan defended Rumsfeld, saying he is doing a "very fine job."
White House Maintains Silence on Iraq Weapons Lab Claim
Meanwhile, for the second straight day Thursday, White House spokesperson Scott McLellan could not tell reporters when President Bush or other administration officials were informed a Pentagon fact-finding mission had found no mobile biological weapons labs in Iraq. The timing of the fact-finding mission's report has come under intense scrutiny. Just two days after it was submitted, President Bush cited the trailers as proof the US had discovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The President and other administration officials continued to make the faulty claim for more than a year - and never once said their claim had been disputed.
Up to 2 Million March in National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice
As many as two million people took to the streets in more than 100 cities and towns across the country on Monday to march for immigrants' rights. Undocumented workers, legal immigrants, labor unions, immigrant rights advocates and their supporters demonstrated in what was billed as the National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice. In New York, more than one thousand demonstrators crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and packed the streets in lower Manhattan for a rally near City Hall. In Atlanta, as many as 80,000 people flooded the streets. In Phoenix, an estimated 100,000 rallied at the Arizona Capitol. 25,000 marched in Madison, Wisconsin. 10,000 in Boston. 8,000 in Omaha, Nebraska. The rallies Monday followed a day of demonstrations in San Diego, Miami, Birmingham, Alabama, Utah, Idaho and Iowa. A rally in Dallas drew half a million people, the largest protest in the city's history. In Washington DC, hundreds of thousands streamed past the White House to a rally on the National Mall. The demonstration took place just yards from the Capitol, where Senators last week failed to reach agreement on wide-ranging immigration reform that would allow the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country a chance to work here legally and eventually become U.S. citizens. We'll spend the hour looking at the growing immigrant rights movement after headlines.
Immigrant Rights Coalition Calls for One Day Boycott, Walk-Out
A coalition of groups advocating for immigrant rights are calling for a massive one-day job and economic boycott to take place May 1st. Some are calling the event "A Day Without Immigrants." Organizers are calling on immigrants to refuse to work or spend any money on May Day to protest moves in Congress to criminalize undocumented workers. In recent weeks millions of immigrants and their supporters have taken to the streets in an unprecedented wave of protests.
RAF Doctor Jailed For Refusing Iraq Service
In Britain, a doctor in the Royal Air Force has been sentenced to eight months in jail for refusing to go to Iraq. Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith maintained he is refusing his assignment in order to not take part in an illegal war. "Now more so than ever he feels that his actions were totally justified and he would not if placed in the same circumstances seek to do anything differently," Justin Hugheston-Roberts, the lawyer representing Kendall-Smith, said after the sentencing.
Report: Bush Administration Has Plans For Iran Nuke Strike
Speculation over the possibility of a US military attack on Iran is increasing amid reports the Bush administration has drawn up plans to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. In a major piece in the New Yorker, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh says there is a growing conviction in the defense and diplomatic community that the Bush administration's ultimate goal in the nuclear standoff with Iran is regime change. A high-ranking former defense official said the Bush administration's military plans are premised on the hope "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government." The official went on to say: "I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, 'What are they smoking?' "
No Denial From Bush on Iran Attack Plans
In his first public comments on Iran since reports emerged that his administration has drawn up plans for an attack, President Bush was dismissive -- but did not issue an explicit denial: "The doctrine of prevention is to work together to prevent the Iranians from having a nuclear weapon. I know -- I know we're here in Washington; you know, prevention means force. It doesn't mean force, necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy. And by the way, I read the articles in the newspapers this weekend. There was just wild speculation, by the way. What you're reading is wild speculation, which is kind of a, you know - happens quite frequently here in the nation's capital."
The issue has received renewed attention following a recent piece by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. The article cites defense officials saying the Bush administration has drawn up elaborate plans to use tactical weapons against Iranian nuclear sites. Seymour Hersh was also in Washington Monday, where he discussed the possibility of a US attack. Hersh said: "It's going into what they call operational planning, in which there's serious, consistent very carefully drawn up bombing campaigns and what you will. I mean, there's no decision made about what to do but it's not just pie in the sky, this is serious stuff."
Bush Criticized For Falsely Claiming U.S. Found Mobile Weapon Labs in Iraq
The White House is coming under intense scrutiny after the Washington Post revealed that the administration kept asserting it had uncovered mobile biological labs in Iraq even after a team of Pentagon investigators had concluded no such labs had been found. On May 27, 2003 the Pentagon made its findings available. Two days later President Bush said “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.” Days later Secretary of State Colin Powell said “We have already discovered mobile biological factories… There is no question in our mind that that’s what their purpose was. Nobody has come up with an alternate purpose that makes sense.” The Bush administration continued with its faulty claim for more than a year.
In Washington, Press Secretary Scott McClellan attempted to spin the controversy of mobile labs by criticizing the press for covering a story based on what he described as rehashed, old information. He called the story “an embarrassment for the media” and irresponsible because the Bush administration has already admitted its pre-war intelligence on Iraq was mistaken. But McClellan could not answer whether the President knew of the Pentagon’s conclusions before he publicly said the trailers were proof Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Powell Admits He Did Not Believe Iraq Posed Imminent Nuclear Threat
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is now saying neither he nor his aides believed Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat before the US-led invasion. In an interview with journalist Robert Scheer, Powell said the President was convinced by nuclear claims given to him by Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA. Powell said: “The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote.” Asked about President Bush’s faulty claim that Saddam Hussein attempted to buy nuclear material from Niger in his State of the Union speech, Powell reportedly answered: “It should never have been in the speech... I never believed it.”
Rev. William Sloane Coffin, 81, Dies
And the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr. has died at the age of 81. For the past half century he has been a leading anti-war and civil rights advocated. During the 1960s as chaplain of Yale University he was a leading critic of the Vietnam War and strongly advocated the use of civil disobedience to protest the war. In one of the most celebrated trials of the 1960s he faced charges along with Dr. Benjamin Spock and others of conspiracy to encourage draft evasion. He was also an early supporter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and took part in some of the first Freedom Rides. Courage, he preached over the years, was the first virtue, because ''it makes all other virtues possible.'' In the 1970s he went on to become a senior minister at the Riverside Church in New York. And in the 1980s he played an instrumental role in the anti-nuclear movement.

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