Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Another hell of a Sunday.

Which in terms of the editorial actually worked out well. The more we knocked out of this site, the more technical problems, the angrier we got. We love the editorial. C.I. said, "You're not putting in 'Lotta Links' like that." We said we were. C.I. said, "Then we're naming others." And we did. As we noted the failures of the media, Kat had the idea to put on the CD that captured our mood and, no, we were not ready to make nice. Here's who helped write this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim;
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 Ils);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot

Here's what you've got:

Editorial: Call Us Dixie Chicks -- We're not ready to make nice -- The editorial. As Rebecca said, "Oh, it's not like we lost a link."

TV: Call the coroner -- Ava and C.I., under pressure, knocked this out in 20 minutes. At the last minute. Both tired and C.I. puking. (Avoid the spinach, people, avoid the spinach. It's the purple acid of today.) They came back and found out about the technical difficulties. As Ava said, "We're done. We're done and ready to go to bed and the edition still isn't up?'

The Regressive (Parody) -- This is a light-hearted parody and anyone who thinks otherwise can read the editorial. Had this been written in the last five hours when technical difficulties abounded, it would have been very harsh. Trust us, this was light-hearted.

The Fear -- We really did enjoy The Nation article we mentioned in here. We thought we'd be done by seven a.m. at the latest, it's now almost one p.m. We were prepared to get night pictures for this feature. Everyone, from where ever they were participating, went out to snap photos and then we pulled the best and then Rebecca (thank you, Rebecca) played with them to see what she could do. We wanted foreboding, not sharp focus.

Plamegate and the Lies of Conventional Wisdom -- Plamegate. Nuff said.

Yapping Watchdogs Miss The Point -- Oh boy, did they. Almost one million regular viewers of the evening news on the big three took September 11th off and they were too busy rubbing their thighs over "Katie's ratings are down! Katie's ratings are down!" to note that huge fact.

Janet Charlton Arrives at The New York Times -- The Bobble Head Goes On. Drums keep pounding rhythm to the brain. Lah-di-dah-di-dah.

The New York Times Doesn't Really Do Corrections -- No, they really don't. They really, really don't.

The Bullies & the Tyrants latest single: "Bullies Without Borders" -- Kat had the idea of noting Dallas' alternate lyrics to "Creeque Alley" and we decided to team it with a drawing by Isaiah.

Quick Roundtable -- you demanded it. You got it. It's was the second biggest item in the e-mails. (The TV commentary last week was the biggest. The editorial was the third biggest.)
And obviously C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review participated, we just forgot to credit in the opening.

Recommending Reading -- no highlights reproduced, no time. These are recommended readings.

Thank you to Dallas for hunting down links and all other help. Thank you to Isaiah for permission to repost his comic. Thank you to Rebecca for photo-shopping and for posting visuals to her site first.

That's it, it's one p.m. The core six are calling it a "night." Thirty-one hours straight. If you read something that pissed you off, good. Hopefully, you found something of use. If not, don't come back -- somethings work if you ignore them.

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

Editorial: Call Us Dixie Chicks -- We're not ready to make nice

Leave it to Lotta Links to yet again prove our point that the media, big and small, failed with their Iraq coverage all summer long.

Grabbed from Lotta Links:

Father of Lt. Ehren Watada launches speaking tour to support son's protest of war 9/17

Oh my God! He's going back on tour! Wait, this is Lotta Links which previously headlined a story as being about war resister Bob Watada. Bob Watada is the father. Ehren Watada is the Iraq war resister.

No, Bob Watada is not launching a tour right now. He may do so again, but the story Lotta Links links to says he is and, for proof, they link to an August San Francisco Chronicle story that appeared as Bob Watada was winding down his speaking tour.

The tour in question is over. It's passed. There's no new or news in the headline.

[C.I. provides the breakdown here.]

Now what is news is "Military tries to sneak in a new charge against Ehren Watada."

What's that you say? Glad you asked.

The Article 32 hearing took place in August. Friday, the US military announced that they were adding this charge: conduct unbecoming an officer. Por que? For a speech he gave in Seattle at the Veterans for Peace conference in August. What? You didn't hear about the conference? You didn't hear about the speech?

One more indication of how media, big and small, failed you on Iraq this summer. With few exceptions, they didn't cover the Article 32 hearing, with few exceptions, they didn't cover the speech.

Now the military's trying to tack on a charge after the fact, a charge that no Article 32 hearing took place on. Ehren Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, says, "If they go ahead and add this charge without reconvening an Article 32 and we get to trial, we're going to move to dismiss it because it wasn't presented at the Article 32, and my belief is a military judge is probably going to dismiss it."

Sounds more than logical so why is the military pulling this nonsense?

Could it be because other war resisters are coming forward? Ricky Clousing and Mark Wilkerson were already war resisters. As summer wound down, Ricky Clousing turned himself in and refused to recant his position against the war. (The military's responded by charging him with desertion.) Mark Wilkerson followed. (And, though some still couldn't find the story, Cindy Sheehan was at both their sides living up to her earned nickname of Peace Mom.) That's not all. Anita Anderson announced that her son, war resister Darrell Anderson, was returning from Canada. Courage to Resist reported that he's planned events for September 30th in Fort Erie.

Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to serve. As other war resisters tell their stories, is the military getting nervous? Are they afraid Watada may be leading to America putting a face on war resistance?

Probably so.

If you think nothing happened in peace news this summer, it's not true. Plenty happened, from a trip to Jordan to the Troops Home Fast, to dozens of activites in between and Camp Democracy going on in DC. (C.I. notes that John Nichols has a story on Camp Democracy and you can check The Nation home page for that. It will be excerpted at The Common Ills this evening.)

But if you think nothing happened, it's because media, big and small, failed you. They weren't interested. They had other fish to . . . simmer.

Maybe you missed the CNN story online but the headline read "Darfur free falls as the world dithers and Sudan balks" and we're not remembering anything like that cautioning against invading Iraq. But then again, Bully Boy supports action in Darfur. (And then some.) Watch for all things media, big and small, to give you round the clock coverage because, if they proved nothing else this summer, it's that when the mainstream picks up and goes to a new location, they'll gas bag it on that one topic too. They can, apparently, only follow one topic. Look for Darfur, Darfur, Darfur round the clock this week.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, you've got what we'll call a "moat" being constructed. (C.I. dubbed it that first, we all agree -- it's a waterless moat -- Bully Boy did read this summer! From Ye Old Times Military Strategies!) You've got the military's own chief intelligence officer (Marine) saying that al Anbar is most likely lost (no, hearts and minds to be won). You've got corpses turning up so regularly and in such large numbers that the mainstream (if not small media) is seriously discussing it.

Oh, yeah, and did you hear about the US military keeping a count of Iraqis who died? Probably not if you depended on all things media, big and small, to inform you of that story that broke in June. Let's repeat: In June.

Now you get some people who should be red-faced and ashamed, trying to sneak it past their readers or listeners or watchers that "According to the military's count . . ." What? What? Dumb ass media says "What?" They didn't tell you that and they won't own up to the fact that they're now sort-of, kind-of covering something they should have covered in June so they haven't got their nerve up to tell you yet that, goodness, golly, the government refuses to release the count to the press or the people.

Now the military let the lie go on for over a year (the military began keeping a count in July of 2005 -- or that's the story they're sticking to right now -- they've always kept a count) and now that the cat's out of the bag, the press should be screaming for the count to be released. But that's not happening. They maybe waiting for another month or two to scream because they really don't want you to grasp how their self-boastful coverage flat-out failed you in each and every way (with very few exceptions) throughout this summer.

They failed you. So an editor of a magazine can write an overly long attack on people he doesn't think are worth the time of day, but he can't tell you about the DAMN BODY COUNT. He can slam away but he can't tell you about Ricky Clousing or Mark Wilkerson. He can slam like there's no tomorrow but you haven't heard a peep about the fast or about Camp Casey or about . . .

Hey, it's a long list and they need to own their failures and "failure" is the only word for it. The media failed, big and small, with few exceptions. (And we'll note big media tended to fail less than small media this summer.) It's embarrassing and some are now on promotional tours talking about how important small media is and how it is the only way to inform you and blah blah blah and "Buy my book or donate money to my magazine or do this for me or that for me because I am the living Jesus Christ of small media." You're not Jesus, you just have a Christ complex and, sorry to break it to you, your disorder is far out of your reach.

We're again having technical problems, so we're not doing links to the following. But in terms of small media, these sites, publications, broadcasts at least tried in some way this summer (and some did a really strong job) with their Iraq coverage: Truthout, CounterPunch, The Nation, KPFA's Flashpoints, KPFA's The Morning Show (we give it credit especially for being one of the few programs to cover Bob Watada's speaking tour -- which, again, is over now, it's not starting), and . . . We're searching, we're reaching.

The KPFA Evening News did cover it but that's a real news show and not a news magazine so it should be covered. But, yes, KPFA Evening News covered Iraq pretty much every broadcast.
On Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows Friedman largely focus on the actions in the occupied territories. But their coverage of Iraq was greater than some of the ones who've lined their own nests with their supposed bravery on Iraq.

So we salute those (and anyone we've forgotten to include). We salute The New York Times for actually doing a story on Ehren Watada, for some strong reporting from Edward Wong and Richard Oppel Jr and, C.I. adds, from Damien Cave and Paul von Zielbauer.

We salute The Washington Post for their Iraq reporting which is usually greater in volume on any given day than The Times.

But we salute the war resisters. We salute Cindy Sheehan who kept going even when small media turned its back on her story. (Which, for the record, they did -- with few exceptions -- all summer long. And anyone who doubts that should ask themselves, in terms of programs, where you heard or saw Cindy Sheehan this summer?) We salute Ann Wright who spoke at the start of the summer about the importance of upping the ante -- and went on to demonstrate, day after day, that those weren't just empty words.

We salute Tom Hayden who didn't just settle for what's going on currently but looked towards the future. (We support Hayden's comments two Saturdays ago, but we're still feeling outrage, like Laura Flanders -- who also should be added to the list of people who distinguished themselves.) And speaking of Flanders, one woman doesn't need CNN rushing to cover Iraq 24-7 to mention it. Randi Rhodes rarely lets a day pass where she doesn't discuss the war that this administration started, the war that this country is officially involved in.

Hey, that round the clock Look What Israel's Done Now didn't cut into Iraq coverage. That's because small media had already dropped Iraq before the Israeli government decided to go nutso and out bully the Bully Boy. They can joke and they can kid, they can lie and they can spin, but reality is that Nancy A. Youssef broke the story on the body counts in June and they weren't covering Israel then.

Maybe small media just needed something to give them a sense of 'renewal'? No doubt, they'll find that in non-stop, wall-to-wall Darfur coverage because, hey, if big media's doing it then small media needs to drop everything and rush in to cover it as well.

Oh, imagine the bravery and grit involved when one decides to rush into a war zone . . . even if means leaving the war zone they're supposed to be covering. Folding Star called it right, Issue of the Month.

With few exceptions (and we've noted some) small media embarrassed themselves all summer long with regards to Iraq. Mike wrote, during this summer, at his site, that what he'd learned was that in the glomming on one story, small media was no different than big media.

Expect to see more of it. And if an editor doesn't realize how offensive his wordy, lengthy attack on a topic he supposedly doesn't think merits any attention was, he might want to look to what his magazine's been covering. Because The Nation (which we noted last week had done a better job than many) wasn't the only one without a big Iraq cover story. But then, we couldn't get White (Soccer) Mama dispensing that conventional wisdom as if she were still auditioning for the chat & chews if that space was used for Iraq.

Lotta Links, we kid it, we josh it. But the reality is, Lotta Links, even with mistakes, did try. They ignored the Nancy A. Youssef story and that was one of the sites Mike noted in his "War As an After Thought" column for Polly's Brew. Mike contacted them himself about the Nancy A. Youssef story. He did that after he learned from Eddie, Shirley and other community members that it wasn't, as C.I. thought, that independent media wasn't aware of the story, they were ignoring it by choice. Eddie contacted a war and peace report when Youssef's story broke. They didn't cover it. "War as an After Thought" noted, in a very long list, every small media site, program, magazine that was contacted about Youssef's story (and this was before the Israeli government went into wack-job overdrive). No one was interested.

It wasn't that they didn't know. It was that they didn't care.

Maybe Watchdog can take a look at that.

Provided, of course, that they can tear themselves away from the very pressing issue of Katie Couric's ratings.

[Courage to Resist and provide coverage of Ehren Watada.]

TV: Call the coroner

After a few efforts of aspiration, Fox is back to rolling around the sitcom sewer. 'Til Death's the name of the infected swine and, as the puss pours out, you must relinquish all notions of an anti-biotic arriving in time to save anyone.

'Til Death rips from the pages of Married With Children. Only it leaves out the kids and anything comical. It lacks Katey Sagal's spark and Ed O'Neill's timing. It just lies there waiting to be put ouf of misery.

Here's the set up. Young couple (think Steve & Marci) live next to older couple (Peg & Al). The young couple (as on Married With Children) is full of hopes and dreams and love. The older couple is, as the title tells you, just waiting for that marital vow to kick in.

It's a tired premise but if Fox couldn't love even its ugly children, who would they have to love?

Here's another clue about Fox's typical sitcoms, they don't feature attractive men. The women are thin (though they complain about their weight) and, as one failed show last year titled itself, Stacked, but the men are at best plain. Which is why in this sitcom, they pluck the guy who had the runs in American Pie as opposed to a Chris Klein or a Jason Biggs.

It's easy to forget now, having seen what the years did, but when Friends first debuted, one of the criticisms was that the cast was 'too pretty' and don't pretend that they were talking about the women. (From Loni Anderson to Courtney Thorne-Smith, it's rare that a sitcom is judged 'too pretty' due to the women.) CBS has a problem with men as well. There they cast "Dads" -- regardless of age, they all seem like some boxy (stocky, or overweight) guy either in the supermarket with the kids or waiting out in the parking lot in the car for the wife and kids to return. Somehow those men always end up with drop-dead gorgeous women (on TV anyway). Higher up on the beauty train is ABC (Jim Belushi not withstanding) who always hopes a 'hottie' can generate buzz. (NBC appears to now compete with Fox on who can cast the most plain, if not ugly, men.)

It's worth noting because the wives are, as usual, so much more attractive than the men. Physically.

Emotionally, they're all on the same page of the DSM.

Let's address the two leads. Brad Garrett is praying to God, Budda, Mohammad and Nielsen that America so desperately misses Raymond that they'll lap up 'Til Death which is to Raymond what thunderbird is to Johnny Walker Red. If you are, in fact, having sitcom DTs so severe that you're ready for the equivalent of sucking on anti-persperant for the alcohol buzz, 'Til Death may give you a tiny dollop of relief. It won't stop the tremors, but it may make them less intense.

Brad Garrett spent some time as an actor embarrassing himself (see Into The Night -- warning, he wears blue briefs and you may never recover) and decided he'd get in on the joke by portraying characters who were meant to be embarrassing. Which is why he's still using the exaggerated Robert Barone voice for each and every line in this show. Besides the tonalities, there's also the issue of the slow, slow delivery.

What no one seems to grasp is that, minus the comic timing of Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle, Raymond was very little. Roberts and Boyle were the true stars of the show and when they were on, they filled the screen with tension and promise. So much so that in the last seasons, the show played like one long reaction shot. But Ray Romano looking nervous (Romano is a far better actor than Garrett) didn't get as big a laugh without Roberts or Boyle adding something -- a squint, a raised eyebrow, a blank stare. They were the ones your eyes went to in every scene because they were the true stars of the show.

Garrett? He was the Potsie of the bunch. Pull him out, no one even notices. Which is why Garrett won a battle but CBS won the war. The battle? The infamous sick-out to raise his salary. With Raymond going off the air, CBS was in panic mode and thinking maybe a series about Robert Barone (Everyone's Even More Bored With Robert?) might pull in viewers. He won the battle, he leveraged a higher salary. But you'll note that his follow-up sitcom airs on Fox and not CBS. There's a reason for that: even in panic mode, CBS could smell After M*A*S*H a mile away.

There's a stench coming off Joley Fisher as well, one so strong it may be the thing that finally kills the sitcom career, and it's name is Patricia Heaton. In what should have been a promising small screen career, Fisher has floundered about post-Ellen. She's been bland but she's never been bad. As Garett's onscreen wife, she's flat out awful.

If you're looking for anything resembling Joley Fisher in the show, don't bother. Every quirk has been sanded down so that she can be as monotone and expressionless as Patricia Heaton. Her
delivery, her voice, it all sounds like Heaton.

If the world even needs one Patricia Heaton, it's only as a cautionary note. Why Fisher's dropped her own comic stylings to ape Heaton is anyone's guess. Common sense would tell Fisher that Garrett got the post-Raymond show, not Heaton. Maybe Fisher was hoping for that post-sitcom path where you wait around for a role every few years when a corporation decides they need to schill for the GOP and, to really underscore that the production is elephant through and through, they need to cast the GOP pin-down gal.

It makes no sense at all. You don't follow the path of the woman Pantene backed off of when the ratings blockbuster sitcom was still on air. You don't follow the path of the woman Patene got more complaints on than any other person ever featured in their ads. Our personal favorite complaint, sent into Patene and then circulated out by a company prankster, was the one that made the point, this is a paraphrase: "If Nicole Kidman was endorsing Pantene, I'd use it. But why on earth would I want to have the life of Patricia Heaton?" Take heart, dear, no one does. Probably not even Heaton.

As those complaints piled up, Heaton suddenly found herself just schilling on TV for a grocery store. Apparently, though unbelievable pushing a product that's supposed to make you look good, people could buy her as an eater.

Actually, in fairness to Heaton, it's not a monotone. It's a dual-tone. There is the normal nag and then there is the screeching nag. Fisher, being a real actress, was able to nail down both in the first episode and now just looks bored (and not in character) between lines.

So what have we got? They've stolen the premise from Married With Children, the characters from Raymond, so who do they get the plots from? Would you believe I Love Lucy?

We watched two in full and five minutes of the next one -- though no medical expert has confirmed it, we think the sickness that plauged one of us throughout last week came not from spinach but the show. All the plotlines were Lucy-esque. Not in the highs that everyone talks of (they can't even rip off right) but in those mundane little episode when "the girls" decide to show "the boys" what's what. Which is why the second episode was a battle over who would decorate the house (younger couple) and who would decorate the patio (Garret and Fisher)?

Naturally, the women won both times. But if Fox couldn't soothe the increasingly fragile male ego of the viewers they seek, what would they be left to do? Revive Models, Inc?

A detail overlooked, Lucy can't be Fox-i-fied. The plots revolve around the premise that Lucy is likeable. It's that Ricky's likeable and Ethel and Fred. And they didn't get to be likeable, take note Garrett, by making castration jokes when ever the proceedings came to a pronounced lull. In fact, that kind of venum and hate coming off of Desi Arnaz would have killed the show before America fell in love with it.

Possibly Fisher apes Heaton so because she's playing the dullest ball buster since Deborah Barone. Only on Fox could a ball buster stick with a ball-less man. The women are ugly, the men are ugly. On the inside, where it counts.

Now we can just imagine a Brad Garrett fanatic writing in to say he (we're sure it will be a he) knows lots of people like Eddie and Joy (the couple Garrett and Fisher play). We don't doubt it. We don't doubt that some people know serial killers. We wouldn't want to see a sitcom about them either.

Or to put it another way, Seinfeld was a sitcom about nothing but it didn't star nothing, it didn't force you to watch nothing mouth lines oh-so-slowly.

We bumped into a friend who wrote for Raymond last week. He wanted to try a theory on us: Raymond reflected America post-9/11 (when it enjoyed its greatest ratings) because it was a show about people who couldn't stand each other but had to get along.

That, he told us, was the message of the show and the message for America.

We were glad to note that toiling for Raymond hadn't destroyed all his creative fantasies; however, by that 'logic,' we could suggest that 'Til Death is like Laura Bush: America is stuck with Bully Boy and, like Laura, we have to work real hard to try not to outshine him.

The reality is that Fox has always been a one trick pony. Whenever in doubt, it goes back to clone another Married With Children, could Bill Frist take a moment to address that genetic mutation? Sometimes an Ally McBeal will hit and they'll try to upgrade a little or a Melrose will take off and they'll try to do cellular division. 'Til Death results from the fact that Fox's current 'hit' sells fear as a drama with quick cuts and sudden jumps. 'Til Death tries to market it via a comedy with slow reaction shots to a flat line. It can't be revived and Garrett's lousy performance at the convention should have clued them in quick that the last minute retooling couldn't save the dying.

The Regressive (Parody)

The Regressive

The online site of the monthly Regressive.

"September 21st, International Day of Peace"
by Matthew Rothschild

At almost every convention center I stumble into there's a group of freaks, someone or another wearing Vulcan ears or dressed like a Klingon.
If you haven't had the pleasure of enduring these freaks, please let me unload.
Here's what the Trekies breathe:
Star Trek was a bonafide hit that was wrongly cancelled.
Bones was just "a doctor, for God sakes, Jim!"
And Princess Lea was the hottest thing to ever strut the halls of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
On top of that, the insist that Dr. Smith was gay.
I'm amazed that anyone would talk about a subject I have no interest in or knowledge of.
Suddenly, everyone's a Star Trek expert.
People who never even studied astronmy think they have a right to weigh in on this space show.
Problem is, the network cancelled Star Trek and it was never heard from again. So they can go on and on about Wookies and light sabers, but it ain't bringing Star Trek back.
Jerry Van Dyke does not want to play Captain Kirk again.
I made a few calls myself, including to George Lucas, and I asked him, "George Lucas, do you want to do Star Trek again?" He replied, "Again?" So I could tell he was really pondering it. Then he asked me how I got his number and said he had no interest in doing Star Trek "Again or ever. Please don't call."
See, that's what these kooks do. They even upset George Lucas, the man who gave them Star Trek. They upset him so bad when that, when a journalist such as myself calls, he has to worry that I might be one of those kooks.
Of course, any Trekie worth his or her weight in outerspace will claim that all the people saying the show was cancelled are in on some plot.
And that I am in on it, too.
Get over it!
George Lucas has blocked my calls.
My research shows that the guru of the Trekie movement is one Sheryl Harris.
She's not alone of course. A myriad of websites devote themselves to this subject, like Dark Thoughts which purports to show the cast of the series. I've only seen four minutes of one episode of Star Trek but even I know that's not the cast. Heck, I interviewed Sulu himself not that long ago.
Harris and other leftwing conspiracy theorists put the two together, and voila. They're spouting off claims like, "My name is Sheryl Harris and I have been a major Star Wars fan ever since Episode 1 .All the movies are so cool and I can't wait for Revenge of the Sith. I am so glad George Lucas decided to put the Star Wars premieres in May because that is the month my birthday is in which is May 25. I am 18 this year and I saw Episode 3 on May 21 two days after it comes out which made my 17th birthday really fun and a great memory."
All the movies are cool? Harris, it was a TV show! Star Trek was a TV show! "Star Trek," Harris, not "Star Wars." They don't even bother to learn the title of the show they're in love with.

Click here to cotinue reading the rest of my 7,352 word essay celebrating International Peace Day.
And I've a kicked me a hornet's nest, I have. Click here to read all the comments my attention getting post has garnered.

And don't forget to check out Ruth Conniff:
"As A Progressive, I Support Third Parties and Am Full of Great, Supportive, Nurturing Advice for Greens and Others"
If there is a Green Party candidate who is running against an atrocious conservative Democrat than by all means that's a great person to support.
Click here to continue reading Ruth's helpful voting tips for third party voters.

And remember that Ruth's been getting jiggy wit it! Her new album White Middle Class, Middle-Aged, Mothers Can't Hog Up Enough Attention So I Recorded An Entire CD Of Songs For Women Like Me, By Women Like Me, About Women Like Me has just released it's third non-hit single, "Dreams of the Every Day Soccer Momma (From Pilates to Jamboree)." And check out the Wee-Wee!-Ennui dance mix that's sure to have you booth dancing in the Olive Garden! Ruth's hoping to next team up with the Docker Boy for a duet about a man and a woman in mild, shallow like with each other.

Plus, we got a new kid. Don't remember his name, but it's important to have new blood and to let young readers know we're interested in them. So I hired a super-fly dude who can tell you how it's hanging and get all Izzy with the Risotto and then some! Click here to check him out.

The Fear

The Fear. That's all the administration has to sell at this point.

Education plans? Ha. No Child Left Behind was the Hurricane Katrina of education.

The economy? Bully Boy was the Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma all rolled up into one when it came to the economy.

Six years occupying the Oval Office (three years occupying Iraq) and what does he have to sell? Nothing but fear.

It's election time so, like the tired hooker, Bully Boy gets pushed out on the street corner by Karl Rove with cries of, "Sell it, baby, sell it big."

And fortunately Bully Boy is prepared to do just that. There's talk, a bit, of another 9-11. But the real talk is a worse-than 9-11. That did it with Iraq as well. Couldn't just go with "another 9-11" had to toss in "mushroom cloud" and offer bits of worry over "mobile planes" come to anthrax dust America. And maybe you heard that mobile planes garbage and went to the scene in North By Nothwest where Cary Grant's running from the crop duster, through the cornfields?

That's the thing that we think Tom Engelhardt doesn't underscore in "9/11 in a Movie-Made World" (The Nation) when he focuses on the movies. As any good director of a horror film can tell you, it's not what you see, it's what you don't see that hooks the audience.

We enjoyed Engelhardt's article but we did wonder about the emphasis on what films have shown. For one thing, "War of the Worlds," as a radio broadcast, is the only entertainment scare we're aware of this in the country. (Well, that and Patricia Heaton's hair.) It's always what you don't see that scares, what you can't see.

And that's what the administration plays on. You can see that in their response to the non-existant WMDs. They present it as a what-if. As a, "Anyone could have made that call." Why? Because we couldn't know (couldn't "see"). Of course they lied the nation into war.

But there's this belief that they used links to create weasel room. They used linkage to have a pass. While that's probably true, there may be something else at work. Linkage allows people to "see." It allows them to fill in their own pictures.

A concrete example doesn't do that. (Think of metaphors as boats, if you're lost.)

Over two years ago, at a film festival, someone who had worked on the Bully Boy's 2000 campaign made some statements in a semi-public setting that we wished the press had followed up on. (A few seemed to pay attention, but no stories ran.) He spoke of the linkage in those ads, and no, he wasn't just focused on the infamous DEMOCRATS ad campaign. Now you may think the orders came from Karl Rove. According to him, that wasn't the case. (Which fits with our understanding -- Rove gets far too much credit. Those dismissing 'conspiracy theorists' might want to examine the creation of 'genius' Rove whom, if anyone's forgotten, Bully Boy dubbed "Turd Blossom.")

According to him, the one screaming for the linkage was Big Babs herself. That may be a bit shocking but, outside of Phil Hartman, who seriously questioned the Big Babs myth when she was First Lady? (Even The Simpsons caved and turned Big Babs into Martha from Dennis the Menace -- the woman who thought evacuees from Hurricane Katrina benefitted from the hurricane, the woman who pondered why her "beautiful mind" should be bothered with the deaths of Americans in Iraq, the woman who called Geraldine Ferraro a bitch and then tried to back pedal on it, the woman who publicly loathed Nancy Reagan, the woman . . .) Hey, if a non-reader can peddle herself as someone dedicated to reading, who knows what else she could do?

(And, for the record, the linkage reportedly included audio as well.)

Whether true or not (and of course it must be untrue since no one ever wrote it up, in a roomful of reporters, right? -- because only the truth makes it into print), the technique the Bully Boy's always used: linkage.

He's suggestive more often than explicit because someone grasped (some time ago) that what can't you see is more frightening than what you can see. It's why someone too scared to sleep at night can doze off when the sun comes up. As though the mere absence of darkness turns an area into a secure panic room.

With Iran, Bully Boy's making noises again. He's doing the linkage. Why tell the people, for instance, that Iran just has a gun, when you can allow someone picture an Uzi?

What he specializes in is creating impressions and he does that through suggestion. It's part of the reason his core can stick with him. It's not just that they're blind, it's that he suggested and they filled in the blanks. He suggested "mushroom cloud," he didn't say it would happen.

Like any playground Bully, he uses the linkage to create The Fear. Is a playground bully really as tough as you think, or is that the fear coming through from what you've heard?

Again, we enjoyed Englehart's article and found it thought provoking. We'll agree that films can create a point of reference (as novels did in prior times and other art forms did as well). But that's the starting point.

Well before 9-11, Independence Day was already seen as old hat. It was as though it was a film from the fifites. (It's also true that special effects have made tremendous strides yearly in the last few years.) The film that scared you when you saw it years ago at the theater now may make you laugh at how hokey the monster looks or how the models being used are so obviously models and not real spaceships, skyscrapers or waht have you.

Our own imaginations have always been (and probably always will be -- or will be if we're lucky as a civilization) more powerful than anything that could fit on the screen or page.

It's an important point as Bully Boy appears geared up for at least another war and as he continues to lie about Iraq. The fact checking alone won't help stop that. An understanding of how the linkage is working in the minds of people might.

We're seeing some ways of addressing Iran that were similar ways of addressing Iraq. Someone wants to prove that Bully Boy is lying. They write their piece and the awakened rejoice. It's great that number has increased since 2003; however, those pieces aren't always effective.

What they do is take statements by Bully Boy: A, B, C, D, and E.

They then refute in this manner:


. . . .

If you're trying to reach the awakened, great, you probably have. They were predisposed to disbelieve the Bully Boy from the beginning. But if you're trying to reach out to the ones he's working, the ones who will cheer him on, you might be better off grasping that when The Fear sets in, a litany of rebuttal sounds like this: "Blah Blah Blah blah blah blah Blah blah blah BLAH BLAH BLAH blah blah . . ."

That's actually true of all the responses to the Bully Boy. It sometimes seems the left wants to demonstrate how much they paid attention in classes (look at the history lessons offered in the wake of the comparison of war critics to Nazi-appeasers). In all those history lessons, we're sure the writers were damn proud of the gold stars teacher was giving them. But their classmates?

What they needed was the message that was apparently too basic for many on the left: NO, WAR CRITICS ARE NOT NAZI APPEASERS. YES, THAT COMPARISON WAS WRONG.

When the points are made like that, those suffering from The Fear can take another breath and then begin to listen. But in the midst of The Fear a lesson or lecture is lost. A little less star turns, a little less desire to be too wonderful for words, and a little more basic communication would be more effective in the face of an attack like that then instead offering up "Well, in WWII the Nazis did this and the . . ."

Save the history lessons. Really, we're sure you're all very smart, very brilliant, wonderfully educated. But many aren't communicating. Maybe that's why they've latched on to the hula hoop of the decade, "framing." Framing's going to teach them (finally?) to communicate. That's the myth. Plain spoken won't do it, apparently. (Or is that so many have forgotten how to speak plainly?) But framing provides a little trick or device we can use.

The reality is that all the "How will we respond" is, more often than not, a mistake. Bully Boy graps that. He grasps that his blunders are rarely held against him by his core. They see the same blunders the rest of us see. But he never talks down to them (openly) as though he was going to help these poor lessers see what needs to be seen.

That's another reason he uses linkage. It allows people to feel they're on the same page with him. "He's just like us." If there's an issue that's come up, they want to know what it is. Not tomorrow or the day after when the "frame" has been figured out. And they don't want a history lesson.

When those facts come dog piling one on top of another, it's too much. The issue is "Is it true or is it false." On the issue of the Nazi appeasers, a large number of our 'best and brightest' saw that issue as the chance to dust off their college thesis. By the time they're lengthy monuments to self had been written, let alone read, those who were going to be taken in by the Bully Boy were already in his camp.

Currently, there's a spinach scare. Can't trust the spinach! Watch how the CDC handles it in public. They'll state this is where the problem is, this is where it isn't. They'll then give information. After they've clearly outlined reality, they'll provide information. They won't rush in with a history lesson on e-coli. The following will not occur:

Diane Sawyer: Joining us is Dr. Pepto from the CDC to talk about a topic that concerns many of us, spinach. Dr. Pepto, welcome to the show.

Dr. Pepto: Thank you, Diane. Let me start by explaining that the e-coli virus was first discovered by a scientist working on BLAH BLAH BLAH. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Now, we're up to ten years ago. And it should be noted that one of the curious aspects of e-coli that scientists have always found interesting is that it BLAH BLAH BLAH.

If you saw that, people would be flipping the channel. Dr. Pepto? They want one thing from her, they want to know what's what. Not a history, not a case history. They want to know if they should be worried or not. Dr. Pepto will stress the issue of to worry or not repeatedly throughout her remarks. She will grasp how The Fear works.

The CDC specializes in calming the public as much as it specializes in informing them. They never fail to tell you what you should be worried about and what you shouldn't. In a simple bit of television, they never have the need to go back ten or twenty or thirty or forty years. They deal with the issue at hand and offer the public assurances.

The Fear works on linkage. That's the Bully Boy's m.o. And all the graphs and charts and footnotes in the world are useless when you can't call it out and state clearly that the panic he is creating is a false one. (Or, for that matter, the dreamy fantasy he's portraying as reality is false.)

We really did love Englehart's article. We could sink our teeth into it. (Probably because he didn't try to overwhelm you with a star turn. He argued his point directly.) We'd love to see more like it. But the issue of the linkage and how it works with The Fear isn't that people are picturing what they've already seen and going, "Oh my God!" It's that they're picturing what they've seen and imaging worse. That's what the Bully Boy graps even if a great many of his critics still doesn't understand.

Plamegate and the Lies of Conventional Wisdom

Forget follow the money, follow the alibi.

Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

That's the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. That's the act that was broken when Valerie Plame was outed. Failed TV pundit and right-winger Vicky Toejam told Richard Stevenson ("At White House, a Day of Silence on Rove's Role in C.I.A. Leak") for a New York Times report published July 12, 2005:

"She had a desk job in Langley," said Ms. Toensing, who also signed the supporting brief in the appeals court, referring to the C.I.A.'s headquarters. "When you want someone in deep cover, they don't go back and forth to Langley."

Toejam's talking point back then was that there was a 'five-year rule' and Toejam repeatedly stated that Valerie Plame wasn't an undercover agent. From David Corn's "What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA" (The Nation):

Valerie Plame was recruited into the CIA in 1985, straight out of Pennsylvania State University. After two years of training to be a covert case officer, she served a stint on the Greece desk, according to Fred Rustmann, a former CIA official who supervised her then. Next she was posted to Athens and posed as a State Department employee. Her job was to spot and recruit agents for the agency. In the early 1990s, she became what's known as a nonofficial cover officer. NOCs are the most clandestine of the CIA's frontline officers. They do not pretend to work for the US government; they do not have the protection of diplomatic immunity. They might claim to be a businessperson. She told people she was with an energy firm. Her main mission remained the same: to gather agents for the CIA.
[. . .]
When the Novak column ran, Valerie Wilson was in the process of changing her clandestine status from NOC to official cover, as she prepared for a new job in personnel management. Her aim, she told colleagues, was to put in time as an administrator--to rise up a notch or two--and then return to secret operations. But with her cover blown, she could never be undercover again. Moreover, she would now be pulled into the partisan warfare of Washington. As a CIA employee still sworn to secrecy, she wasn't able to explain publicly that she had spent nearly two years searching for evidence to support the Administration's justification for war and had come up empty.

Does it matter? Yeah, it does. Her status mattered enough for Toejam to go on and on about 'five-year rule! five-year rule!' But you don't hear about that now.

You also don't hear a great deal about Armitage and Bob Woodward. Woodward being the other one Armitage "gossiped" to. Armitage deliberately gave out the name of an undercover CIA agent. That's why the media has to sugar coat it with the laughable portrait of Armitage as one of the gals gossiping as they hang out the laundry.

Robert Parry (who's done some of the strongest work on the Armitage angle) recently outlined the close ties betweens Karl Rove and Richard Armitage. Earlier last week, Parry also analyzed the latest on the topic from Robert Novak:

Novak wrote that Armitage "told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA's Counter-proliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband's mission. As for his current implication that he [Armitage] never expected this to be published, he noted that the story of Mrs. Wilson's role fit the style of the old Evans-Novak column -- implying to me that it continued reporting Washington inside information."
In other words, Novak acknowledges two significant points: that he asked why Ambassador Wilson was chosen and that Armitage knew that Plame held a sensitive CIA position, yet still wanted her exposed.

There are two points we'll make to the conventional wisdom in the mainstream.

1) Armitage is seen as non-partisan and it's noted that Robert Novak defined him as such. Novak, a partisan, probably isn't the one to be setting the terms on that topic.

2) Parry's already noted that Armitage and Rove are much closer than coventional wisdom lets on. Another issue conventional wisdom tries to bandy about is that Armitage was State and worked for Colin Powell so, due to that, and their opposition over tactics regarding the Iraq war (not the war itself, just opposed over tactics), Armitage wouldn't take part in the outing of Plame to provide cover for the war. [The way the mainstream tells it, Armitage is marching behind Joan Baez in peace parades.] The problem with that bit of conventional wisdom is that Colin Powell went to the United Nations and sold the war. Remember that, his "blot"?

There have been press accounts of his not wanting to do it (both at the time and after). There have been press accounts of Dick Cheney telling him that he [Powell] could afford to lose a few (favorable) polling points. There have been press accounts of Colin Powell swearing and refusing to include some of the bigger lies in his presentation.

But the reality is, that when called to serve his Bully Boy (if not his country), Collie Powell marched along. So the notion that any division (over tactics, not over going to war) between State and the administration means that Armitage would refuse to go along with an effort to smear Joe Wilson is laughable. Press accounts have also noted that Collie may have been a little loose with the lips as well regarding Valerie Plame.

John Dickerson's "Where's My Subpoena? Valerie Plame, Scooter Libby, and me" (Slate) tells the tale of being primed/pumped by two senior administration officials (Colin Powell and Condi Rice were traveling with the Bully Boy on the trip Dickerson was covering for Time magazine) to pursue who in the CIA sent Joseph Wilson to Niger to determine whether or not there had been an attempt to purchase yellow-cake at the same time that Karl Rove told Matt Cooper (back in the United States) that Valerie Plame was the one. Dickerson writes that the first administration offical told him, "I was told I should go ask the CIA who sent Wilson" and that the second administration official "encouraged me to follow that angle." The two officials spoke to Dickerson in Uganda and he states they did so an hour apart.

It appears many signed up for the outing of Valerie Plame and Colin Powell may very well have been one. Armitage's excuse ("gossip") is laughable and not recognizable under law. He was vetted for his position. He was entrusted with state secrets. Conventional wisdom may attempt to pass him off as a flibberty-gibbet but the sound you hear isn't music, it's an attempt to downplay the fact that he betrayed the office he held and that he broke the law.

Nowhere in the law is the "gossip exception" noted. When someone gossips, if that's the cover he wants to stick to, they intend to gossip. He intended to out Valerie Plame.

Yapping Watchdogs Miss The Point

Last Friday, a Watchdog with a penchant for zooming in on CBS at the expense of the two other networks, and a real hard-on for Katie Couric, continued their We-Said-It-So-It's-True stance. But was it?

The CBS Evening News' The Free Speech segment has been addressed by Media Matters but another watchdog felt the need to weigh in on it. They couldn't offer much of a critique (possibly because Media Matters has already addressed it at length) so this media watchdog that supposedly addresses news content went another way.

In their first headline, they quickly dispensed with the Free Speech segment in three sentences of commentary and two sentences of a quote from Rush Limbaugh as the content-critics got to what was really on their mind: ratings. This was done by a transition (plot twist) in the sixth sentence which ended with "but it may not be it's only problem."

Content-critics then cited USA Today. Because most of the indepth media criticsm is done by USA Today and appears on D1 along side headlines like "It's a boy -- again!" about Britney Spears. We look forward to next week's item from Teen People.

Citing a nine paragraph story by Peter Johnson (one that missed the real issue, as did the Watchdogs), they zoom in on the fact that Monday, September 11th, viewership for CBS Evening News was down by first focusing on two of the nine pargraphs.

To the left are the two paragraphs the Watchdogs zoomed in on.

On Wednesday, The New York Times also noted this incident. Incident, not news. (Someone tell the watchdogs before they rush and tell you that Fashion House is outperforming Desire -- both are in the ratings toilet.) Unlike USA Today, which made it a cover story, The Times elected to do it in the "Arts, Briefly" section (B2 of the Arts section) in an item by Jaques Steinberg. Steinberg noted that The CBS Evening News' Monday broadcast came in third after the program came in first the week prior. He then went on to note something that Johnson didn't, and apparently the watchdogs only read USA Today so they missed it as well: "All three programs were pre-empted in some parts of the West Coast on Monday by President Bush's address".

The watchdogs, pulling from the USA Today report, as they stated on air, noted that Andrew Tyndall has done an study, that he was a "network news analyst" and that he studied the three networks' evening news broadcasts. There they leave USA Today and go with percentages -- Tyndall offers minutes. Peter Johnson reports that Tyndall's findings tell you CBS featured "more features, interviews and commentary" than did ABC and NBC and that theses "features, interviews and commentary took up 74 minutes on the Evening News last week, compared with 51 on Nightly News and 44 on World News." Tyndall found that nineteen minutes of the thirty minute program (minus commercials) focused on what he dubbed "hard news."

After noting these factoids, the Watchdog mused, "Could this have anything to do with the program's post-hype third place finish?"

Could Watchdog's apparent animosity towards CBS and Couric have anything to do with the way they presented the item?

If they wanted to note ratings, the Watchdogs barked at the kids playing baseball -- as opposed to the guy trying to siphon your gas.

Why do we say that?

If there was a news story worth commenting on regarding the ratings for last Monday, the watchdogs missed it.

On Tuesday, CBS returned to first place.

That's really not the issue. Ratings aren't the issue. They go up and down and news critics should be concerned about something other than who won the overnights.

It is true that they should have known the ratings went back up the following day -- and maybe they did but thought their "Could this have anything to do with program's post-hyp third place finish?" was such a devastating put-down they they ignored reality. Or maybe USA Today didn't cover the overnights the rest of the week?

Regardless, there was news in Monday the 11th's ratings. What was the news?

On September 11th, nearly a million Americans who had previously been watching network news bailed on it.

Where was Couric's audience? Looking at the overnights for Tuesday, they weren't watching network news on Monday but were back on Tuesday.

Almost a million people who have been watching network news bailed on September 11th. Why was that? Did they all have flat tires and get home late? Did they switch over to cable news on Monday? Did they avoid the news in some parts of the West Coast because they knew Bully Boy would appear in the middle of it? Did they decide to note the day by doing something other than sitting in front of the TV?

All of us involved in writing this piece were at get-togethers to remember 9-11. Elaine, C.I. and Trina had noted the need for that weeks before the anniversary. Their feelings were that people needed to come together on that day and not be in front of the television in isolation, watching the same clips that TV showed over and over in real time -- in what has to be one of broadcast journalism's worst moments but no one's supposed to note that -- we're also supposed to forget "The Brooklyn Bridge is under attack!" and other similar "news" items that were quickly withdrawn because they weren't actually happening.

The news wasn't anymore serious on 9-11 than it was any other day.

What they had were strong visuals. They ran them over and over, day after day. And now they trot them out each anniversary.

But there wasn't an increase in the level of reporting. There was a lot of emotion expressed on air, not a great deal of news that they stood by the following day (the Brooklyn Bridge was only one of many stories broadcast that was later retracted). But the nation was in shock and because there was footage of the second tower falling (shown endlessly), the same knee-jerk reaction that said "Rally round the Bully Boy!" also said "The news is now about real news!"

It's like the on air crying (we're not referring to victims, we're referring to "news" personalities) during Hurricane Katrina. It was emotional but it wasn't news.

TV news works around visuals. If you've got a strong visual, some will rush in to claim that you've done the best reporting in the world.

But some, not most media critics or watchdogs apparently, look back on 9-11 and the days that followed not with admiration. They see it as the days of endless scares and hyped threats. What had happened wasn't worthy of exploration, the news had to do the big-push for the next 9-11 that they knew was just around the corner.

For that reason, and to note the reality of 9-11, something the Bully Boy never could grasp, we all participated in gatherings. The reality of 9-11 is that something awful happened on American soil but those still alive did what citizens of any nation do and that is continue. That was the story of 9-11. People pulled together and grieved together. They remembered the horror and they didn't become fear monkeys (yeah, Jonathan, we mean you).

The cornuts-eating-fear-monkeys were the ones who began behaving like little babies scared of the boogey man as opposed to adults. But on 9-11, the people of the United States, if not the leaders, stood strong.

Nearly a million people elected not to watch the evening news on any network Monday, September 11th. That is news. Why it happened is worth exploring.

But when you've got a hard-on for Katie Couric, in need of stroking, you don't explore it and those who count on you for some sort of news analysis suffer.

They also suffer when you refer to what is basically a study published in USA Today. There's no peer review apparently nor any efforts to read over Tyndall's actual report. You can read it yourself -- The Tyndall Report. (C.I. wrote about this on Friday.) If you do read it, all the way through, you'll come across the following paragraph:

CBS' enthusiasm for features includes Exclusives. Lara Logan's scoop took us behind Taliban lines in Afghanistan's Ghazni Province and David Martin landed a one-on-one with Richard Armitage, the leaker who told columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, wife of diplomat Joe Wilson, was a spy. "I let down the President. I let down the Secretary of State. I let down my department, my family. And I also let down Mr and Mrs Wilson." "Do you feel you owe the Wilsons an apology?" "I think I have just done it."

Tyndall labels both as "features." Were the Watchdogs aware of that? Are they saying that an interview with the man claiming to have first outed undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame wasn't news worthy? (No, we don't believe Armitage's 'gossip' story and we dealt with that in "Somebody's Lying." But he is one of Robert Novak's admitted sources -- admitted by himself and by Novak -- for Novak's column outing Valerie Plame.)

Is the Watchdog suggesting that a feature on the Taliban isn't content that news consumers should be provided with?

"The Tyndall Report," it certainly has an authorative air to it. You may be picturing a lengthy study with footnotes and pie charts, comparisons of what features CBS had, which ones ABC had, which ones NBC offered. You would be wrong. The Report's coverage of the "hard news" v. "soft news" is three sentences.

The report never uses the term "soft news" but appears to define all things not "hard news" as "features, interviews and commentary." If you're thinking there are any comprasions offered, you're wrong and, in three sentences, there really isn't time to offer examples or provide anything that resembles analysis. (The link goes to the website's main page where, currently, what we're discussing, is displayed. If you come to this feature late you'll need to access "Previous Weekly" and pull up "September 9, 2006: Couric Comes to CBS.")

The "report" (which is really a six-paragraph catch all portrait of a week in TV news) covers a number of other issues (as it does every week and is titled a report every week -- we're not putting down the work done, we're noting that the Tydall Report is a website that does a weekly look at various broadcast topics.) But in terms of the content analysis, you're talking about three sentences and the topic is only alluded to again, in the final paragraph (noted above), to give readers an idea of two features (which appear to not qualify as hard news) that aired on The CBS Evening News.

Friday, Watchdog told you that Katie Couric came in third on September 11th. They also told you that the show had more non "hard news" than any of the other big three evening news broadcasts. What they didn't tell you was that Afghanistan and Armitage apparently weren't considered "hard news" in the study and what they didn't tell you was that nearly a million viewers who normally watch network evening news decided not to on September 11th.

There was news in Monday's ratings and if the goal were analysis, as opposed to bringing you the head of Katie Couric, you might have heard about the huge number electing not to watch for one night.

As Watchdog might put it: "Watchdog either didn't know or didn't think you needed to." Closed quote.

Janet Charlton Arrives at The New York Times

For those lamenting the demise of The New York Times' attempt at a gossip column, we have good news.

"Boldface Names" was never a true gossip column. It mainly told you who arrived where. The sort of tidbits Liz Smith wouldn't toss out on the slowest news day. But it did sport a cheeky sense of humor at odds with the paper's own self-view.

For those who have felt gossip derived (and possibly also missed "White House Letter" -- whose passing was less remarked upon), good news: Janet Charlton has arrived at The New York Times.

On September 13th (and who says thirteen isn't a lucky number?), the paper ran the latest by the Bobble Head Pundit who's apparently attempting to recast herself. With "Dance of Diplomacy Provides Grist for the Gossip Mill," Helene Cooper grabbed for the Charlton.

For 19 long paragraphs, Gal-Pal Mob member Cooper wrote up the rumors swirling around Condi Rice. Well not all the rumors. Of course, not all. We're never supposed to note the big rumor. We're all supposed to avoid that closet in the middle of the room.

So Helene sticks to an R.E.O. Speedwagon type of gossip ("Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another . . .") Can you dig it? Can you feel Helene?

Since Rice is the Secretary of State, it's no doubt important to gush over Condi's clothes ("black stiletto knee-high boots with an above the-knee black skirt"). She didn't wear that on her trip to Nova Scotia (what Helen's supposed to be reporting, er, gossiping about) but that outfit is obviously seered into Helene's mind.

"Until now, Ms. Rice's rumored matches have been, shall we say, unlikely ever to appear on the cover of GQ magazine." Shall we say you've dispensed with the biggest rumor, Helene, about as delicately as anyone in the gossip biz could?

Fortunately, Helene's allowed to dispense with anything that might resemble reporting in the tradition the paper supposedly holds dear -- which is how you get, in the news section mind you, this panting factoid on Peter MacKay: "routinely named Canada's sexiest M.P. by The Hill Times in Ottawa".

Do you picture Times readers saying, "Oh. My. God. Peter MacKay is MacDreamy! Oh. My. God."? Helene appears to.

She then trots out the tired rumors of Condi with Italy's Massimo D'Alema and England's Jack Straw. But she avoids the biggest rumor of all (or at least the biggest one of all that got ink) and that's why we'll have to thumbs down her first stab at gossip columnist.

Oh, Helene, how could you gossip and not note the biggest rumor to make the tabs in this country?

Thumbs down, Bobble Head Pundit, thumbs down. Unwilling to really dish and writing very poorly, Helen serves up a gush-fest that would embarrass even Elisabeth Bumiller at her most shameless.

The New York Times Doesn't Really Do Corrections

Note: On September 13th, The New York Times ran twelve corrections, the eight correction was:

September 13, 2006, Wednesday A listing in Arts & Leisure on Sunday in a preview of the new television season and an article in The Arts on Monday about Aaron Sorkin's new television series, ''Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,'' referred incorrectly to Amanda Peet's role in the series. She previously starred in ''Jack & Jill'' on the WB; her role in ''Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip'' is not her first on television.

We'll leave the article below as it is* [see note at end] and for more on this see "About the Times Select . . .."

"It could be because viewers want to see Matthew Perry in his first show after 'Friends' or Amanda Peet in her first television role."

What's it take to get a correction from the New York Times?

"It could be because viewers want to see Matthew Perry in his first show after 'Friends' or Amanda Peet in her first television role" ran in the paper of no record Monday, September 11th. Author was Bill Carter, title was "'West Wing' to West Coast: TV's Aueter Portrays TV."
Nobody asked The Times to cover entertainment. If they're going to cover it, they need to get their facts right.

Bill Carter writes that Amanda Peet is about to do "her first television role." That's not true.
She's done numerous appearances on TV including Seinfeld, Spin City and multiple episodes of Central Park West. In addition, she starred, with Ivan Sergei, on the WB's Jack& Jill. She played "Jack," as C.I. noted in "No, Bill Carter, Amanda Peet is not about to do 'her first television role'" -- which led a Times loudmouth to e-mail that C.I. probably shouldn't do corrections when "you think a woman played a male character." Times loudmouths probably shouldn't rant in e-mails without knowing their facts. "Jack" was short for Jacqueline (Barret) and played by Amanda Peet; "Jill" was short for (David) Jillefsky and was played by Ivan Sergei. The fact that a loud mouth for the paper of no record could sound off without feeling the need to check (just knew if the nursery rhyme made Jack the guy and Jill the gal, a TV show must do the same) goes a long way to explaining how these types of errors appear in the paper of no record to begin with.

But how do they go uncorrected?

Warner Bros. UK site for the show can be utilized by loudmouths who'd like to do some basic research before writing. (The site only covers the first season -- the show lasted two seasons.) But the question remains, why can't the paper correct their mistake?

There's been no correction on the inside page of the main section all week and there's no correction to the article online currently. Times readers were told that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip features "Amanda Peet in her first television role." That's factually incorrect. There have been single-guest shorts, there has been a role on a daytime drama (One Life to Live), multiple guest appearances on Central Park West and she was one of the two main stars in Jack & Jill. Possibly, just because a press-created genius tells a reporter something doesn't make it true and it's probably best for reporters to confirm the 'facts' given them before rushing them into print.

It's also interesting that a real life person who was supposedly -- the way the press spun it in the 90s -- involved with Matthew Perry is name checked in the article but Carter seems unaware of her supposed relationship with Perry when Friends was becoming a hit on NBC. From the article: "And you know, people are saying the character played by Amanda is supposed to be Jamie Tarses." Jamie Tarses, one of the many rushing to claim credit for Friends and someone who later 'distinguished' herself as company hatchet person for Ellen when she moved over to ABC. If Peet's portraying Tarses, it's a very airbrushed portrait.

The Times doesn't do corrections unless they're forced to. There is no new 'openess' in the wake of Jayson Blair and when something as basic as whether or not an actress is doing her first TV role makes it into the paper and is never corrected, that tells you all you need to know about the paper of no record's correction policy.

Here's how their A2 motto should read:

The Times welcomes comments and suggestions, or complaints about errors that warrant correction because we love to laugh at readers who think we actually give a damn about a word we publish. Messages on news coverage can be e-mailed to or left toll free at 1-888-NYT-NEWS (1-888-698-6397). We're a bored group of people and we appreciate any and every laugh we can get at readers expense so please e-mail and call.

[*Note: Left "as is" because we have no problem admitting our mistakes. We're not going to rewrite something to make it appear like we didn't make an error. We did, the correction ran September 13th.]

The Bullies & the Tyrants latest single: "Bullies Without Borders"

"Bullies Without Borders"

Collie & Rummy were getting kind of chummy just to get this war on the road
Condi & Cheney lyin', fibbin', speakin' in that "mushroom cloud" code
In the oval office Bush boy sat, pranking on Frist by meowing like a kitty cat
While Ashcroft and Gonzales really thought torture was all that
And no one's getting fat except Bully Boy Bush.

Rummy said, "Collie, you know there aren't many can sell the war the way you do; let's hit Iraq"
Collie said, "Golly, Rummy, trashing my reputation ain't funny but you know I got your back."
Collie, Rummy and Condi all laughed while Cheney's friends were pushing for graft
Ashcroft and Gonzales still thought torture was all that
And no one's getting fat except Bully Boy Bush.

When Bush was a governor, said he was humbler, but he changed his mind one day
Eyeing the oil wells, telling the big tails, hit Iraq with or without the UN
Cheney was proddin', "Let's forget bin Laden" flashing that evil grin
"Can't let this moment pass, well you know it would be such a sin."
And no one's getting fat except Bully Boy Bush.

Falluja, Baghdad, Basrah, Kirkuk: We're going to own it all.
Tear up, break down, love to see that statue fall.
Cheney said "cake walk"; Collie said "freedom"; Condi said "Berlin wall!"
No one's hurtin', no one's dying, if you believe Fox News' crawl
And everybody's getting fat except Bully Boy Bush.

Troops hurtin', Haliburton; David Kay says there's no weapons!
Bush offered a fake turkey, his plans were murky, Wolfie wants to go to Iran.
No one's seen bin Laden and something new's startin', Collie says North Korea's getting out of hand.
Greenspan's delusions and Snow's confusions can't go on indefinitely
And quagmire, quagmire is becoming a reality.

"Bullies Without Borders" is by Dallas and borrows the tune for the Mamas & the Papas "Creeque Alley" (available on numerous compilations and appears first on their album Deliver).
"The Bullies & the Tyrants" is Isaiah's The World Today utilzing the covers of the Mamas and the Papas' If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears and Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A.

Quick Roundtable

Jim: At the insistance of readers, we're doing another roundtable. Participating are:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ils); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; and Wally of The Daily Jot. Okay, let's kick it off with what's the big secret because that's what readers want to know after C.I. deleted a portion of a roundtable Rebecca moderated?

C.I.: It's not my secret to reveal. Mike knows the secret. Ask him.

Mike: Let me say first that myself and one other person were shocked that C.I. knew. And when I was tossing out things, that got deleted, I wasn't going to go into it. In the deleted portion of that roundtable, C.I. told me in no specific terms to basically "Shut it."

Jim: So are we talking about it or not?

Mike: I don't think I can.

C.I.: Jim's asking the wrong questions. If this is talked about, will you or another person directly involved be upset?

Mike: No.

Rebecca: I don't get it but if we're noting the deleting portion, I want it on record that C.I. said, quote: "Oh my God, we're Fleetwood fucking Mac. I thought that was hilarious and pulled the other portions of the discussion, that I couldn't follow!, without any regrets but I did love that line.

Dona: Okay, well so we get to what this is, because readers do want to know, let's establish that (a) C.I. knows, (b) Mike knows, (c) it involves one other person. Mike, is that correct?

Mike: Yes.

Jim: Well --

Dona: Let C.I. ask the questions. I'm not in the mood to go round and round.

C.I.: This is the only question I'm going to ask, and I have a feeling Wally also knows about this secret and has for some time, is anyone participating in this roundtable opposed to this being discussed?

Mike: No. The other person said you could discuss it.

C.I.: Okay, Fleetwood Mac, and I'm not asking questions, I'm going to tell everyone what's going on, and do so quickly, so follow along, the Fleetwood Mac reference was to the everyone sleeping with everyone nature of that group. Mike and Elaine are a couple. Mike and Elaine aren't talking about it due to Nina either asking directly that they not or hinting that they shouldn't.

Rebecca: What?

Ty: No way.

Mike: Way.

Jess: Well that's cool. Congratulations, Mike and Elaine. I'm surprised and didn't see it coming. Wally knew?

Elaine: Wally was staying with Mike when we became involved. He was asked not to discuss it.

Mike: Can I ask, this is for C.I., how you knew? You said it was obvious.

C.I.: Okay, but just to establish this, Nina's asked you not to talk about the break up? Is that correct?

Mike: Yes.

C.I.: Nina and Mike were a couple for a year or more. This is how I knew, by the way and I'll try to be brief because Dona wants this roundtable done quickly. Nina and Mike were a couple. Nina, Mike and Tony established the Friday Iraq discussion group that Mike notes each week.
Anyone's who's been reading the site should have noted the vanishing of Nina this summer. I did. At or around the same time other remarks were made including, at Trina's site, the comment that Elaine was more than just a friend to her. It's also been noted that although Elaine drives in for the Friday meetings, she tends to stay there the entire weekend, at Mike's. Between that and other things that went up at Mike's site and Trina's and the fact that Elaine was no longer repeating, as she tends to do at least once a week, "Mike and I are only friends," it was obvious. I knew before everyone stayed out here this summer but it was confirmed when I was advised that there was no need to make up one bed, day after day. It obviously wasn't being used. Wally ran interference while they were out here.

Dona: I didn't notice that.

C.I.: You wouldn't have if you hadn't already noted what had gone up at Mike's site, Elaine's and Trina's. If you had read between the lines or noted what wasn't being said, it would have been obvious that Mike and Elaine were disappearing together and whenever anyone noticed, Wally was there to either change the topic or to offer an excuse.

Mike: My man, Wally!

Rebecca: I can't believe no one told me. I can't believe you, C.I., didn't tell me.

C.I.: I didn't tell anyone, it wasn't my place to. Ava knows and found out after the roundtable when she spoke to Betty to find out what the deleted portion of that roundtable was. Mike was hinting about Ava and Jess having a relationship, which neither intends to speak of, and that much was known.

Ava: Right and C.I. wouldn't tell me what was said. So I called Betty because I was curious to know if something about my relationship, other than that it existed, was discussed or hinted at.
Betty told me the deleted portion.

Betty: And told her I couldn't make hide nor hair of it. I hope that's the expression.

Ava: And I tossed that around, what Betty told me and realized someone was having a relationship and that Mike knew so it was probably him. My first thought, honestly, was it must be Mike and Wally because that's the only person I knew he'd spent any time with this summer, more than usual, of us. But Wally's got a girlfriend and when I called him, on a fishing expedition, it was obvious that things were going very well there. Wally's not the type to do anything on the side, so it was obvious Mike was sleeping with someone else. Then I kept going back to Betty saying C.I. was "fierce" in the fact that the issue wouldn't be discussed and I guessed it was because it involved Elaine and she wasn't participating in the roundtable. So I went to C.I. and the non-answer was the answer.

C.I.: I'm jumping in again because I like Nina and she's a community member and, I'm guessing, she doesn't want to be discussed at either Mike or Elaine's site. Is that correct?

Elaine: Yes. And if you could guess one more thing so I don't come off like the skank of the year, I'd really appreciate it.

C.I.: Well, it's obvious, Nina and Mike broke up and then after that, underscore after that, you two began a relationship.

Elaine: Correct. And she doesn't want their breakup discussed online "now or ever" which is what she told me when the thing went up here noting that there was some secret. She said if it came up from others it could be acknowledged, the break up, but she doesn't want her personal life discussed online.

C.I.: And she never did and that was noted at Mike's site during their relationship. She's entitled to her privacy. She's a member of the community and a very nice person. Everyone here spent time with her in March when we all went to DC. I'm not aware of any ill will towards her.

Rebecca: Well excuse me for leaving the cut and dry, but that's a pretty big secret and I can't believe I wasn't told.

Elaine: You who can keep no secret.

Rebecca: I would've kept that.

Elaine: Well, we hoped it would ease out and then we would have confirmed it. But questions like, "Wasn't Mike seeing" or "What happened to" were questions we weren't supposed to discuss. And we really weren't sure what we were allowed to discuss.

Mike: Right. After the roundtable with Rebecca, I spoke to Nina and told her it would be coming out soon and asked her for specifics of what could and could not be discussed. The fact that Elaine and I are a couple and anything to do with that, we can both talk about.

Elaine: But don't intend to talk about everything.

Kat: I figured Mike was in a new relationship, during the roundtable, when C.I. made the Fleetwood Mac joke. Or had a brief relationship or something. I honestly wondered if it was Betty and Mike because of the secret nature to it. Betty always says she can't have a realtionship until her kids are older so it made sense to me, that if she'd broken that vow, Mike wouldn't be at liberty to say. But I got lost in that discussion, at the roundtable, because only Mike and C.I. seemed to know what they were talking about.

Elaine: Okay, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, the joke about the age difference.

Jim: No one's going to make a joke about that. I am surprised and surprised that something could be going on and be kept for weeks. I don't mean that in a "I'm hurt that Mike and Elaine didn't tell me" kind of way. I just mean, I can't believe we didn't notice. Now that C.I.'s pointed it out, I did think, for instance, that the way Trina worded that comment at her site about Elaine was strange. I figured she was just rushing to get her post up, though.

Mike: We really thought Rebecca would be one the who would figure it out.

Rebecca: Me?

Mike: Yeah, because you and Fly Boy are coming to the Friday things and because you and Wally are on the phone all the time. We figured at some time Wally would have to slip up and let something out.

Wally: I am no Richard Armitage.

Mike: No, you are not. But like, Rebecca, you were trying to fix Elaine up with a guy on Friday and we really thought the hints Elaine was dropping would clue you in.

Rebecca: Damn it, I missed that. I hate being the last to know. But congratulations.

Jim: Okay, so that's the big secret and now we all know.

Mike: Just one more thing. The day after the roundtable, that Friday, I called Wally and told him, "C.I. knows" and Wally was all, "Oh boy do I look a liar now." Because he was covering for us when we were all together, so we could get some alone time. So just so Wally doesn't wait for a few days to bring this up. C.I., I'm talking to you.

C.I.: Oh, sorry. No, I don't think Wally's a liar. He was doing what he'd been asked to do. I never thought, "Wally, that liar!" He was running interference.

Mike: No harm, no foul.

C.I.: Right.

Jim: Okay, so now we can move on. Right? Okay, Cedric you had a comment or topic.

Cedric: I just put down "topic" because I wasn't sure how to word it. We're dealing with something in another feature and doing it humorously but I thought it needed to be addressed in a non-humorous manner. If someone wants to grab that and intro it in a way that doesn't interfere with what's planned for the other thing, that would be great.

Betty: I will. On 9-11, Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive decided to write one of the longest pieces he's written lately. It was slamming the 9-11 truth movement. And his column and the way he wrote it offended a lot of people.

Ty: That was a good intro and I think we should toss to Kat now because she's spoken of Drunk Uncle. That was an apt comparison by the way, I thought, you go over to visit a sick uncle and he greets you at the door by grabbing your breast.

Kat: Well, that's how it struck me. I mean he always comes off so friendly and so upbeat and in that thing he just wanted to holler and yell and stamp his feet about a topic that his magazine hasn't ever covered and to do so on 9-11. It made no sense to me at all.

Jim: It didn't make sense to anyone participating. When you write about Iraq, you dash off a few thoughts. When you write about something supposedly important to you five to eight paragraphs is enough. But you've got a "web exclusive" that goes on and on for what felt like 7,000 words and it's on a topic that you haven't covered and it's to note a day that American should be able to come together on, if no other day of the year, but you're playing "The Divider."

Ava: And that wasn't funny. Just to note that. He tries to get at least one obvious one-liner off in that and I think there were several other ones as well, less obvious. It didn't read funny. He shouldn't try to write funny. In fact, here's a tip for him, if you're trying to write funny, read it aloud and see if it sounds funny. If it doesn't, chances are it's not.

Wally: Which is why I always read mine aloud and then call C.I. and say, "Listen to this."

C.I.: Quickly, thank you to Cedric for noting that all I'm doing is being a sounding board for Wally or for you and Wally when you write together. I don't want credit for writing things I didn't write.

Betty: And I do the same thing Wally does. I'm always e-mailing drafts to Kat and C.I. and calling them to read things. But, Ava's point, it wasn't funny. It seemed like it was supposed to be in that one-line. For it to have been funny, he would have had to build to it.

Mike: C.I.'s not really discussing the column and I'm wondering if there will be any participation on this topic?

Dona: Yes, there will. C.I. knew what Cedric's topic was and will weigh in on one aspect. I didn't have time to get with Jim before the roundtable but I did get with Cedric to find out what the topic was and I did ask C.I. about participation. Our opinion is that when Matthew Rothschild wrote the gleeful e-mail, public e-mail sent out to anyone who signs up for them, about the "hornet's nest" he'd stirred or created, he was wanting attention for his column.

Jim: I thought it was bad journalism. When you present a unified theory, it had better be a unified theory. It's not but he presented it as such. He created a straw man from the parts he picked and then tried to go to town but some people really aren't built to go to town and that's why he failed. It's really an embarrasing piece of writing.

Wally: If he was interested in addressing the topic, which he wasn't, he could have gone to someone like Bonnie Faulkner who has interviewed people with various beliefs on the matter.

Ty: Well, what do you think about the truth movement?

Wally: I don't disbelieve them and I don't believe them. I don't know enough either way. I've heard Guns and Butter and think it's a great show and applaud Bonnie Faulkner for being willing to seriously address the topic. But I'm too busy to evaluate, or to do the research to evaluate. I'm not opposed to any hypothesis being discussed.

C.I.: Which is where I'm going to jump in. He seems offended that the issue is raised. I've been going around the country and speaking and I've never had a problem with it. If someone raises it, and I'd guess that's every third gathering, I don't say "Shut up" and I don't dismiss them. I listen as they have their say. If he's getting hostility from people , he may need to take a look at the way he's responding when someone brings up the topic. I think it needs to be stated again that there is not one unified theory around the country. There are some who believe a conspiracy involves people knew what events were going to happen and that they did nothing to prevent them from happening. There are some people who believe that a plane did not hit the Pentagon. Not everyone believes that aspect. Some believe that there were bombs in the World Trade Center. Those some, as Kat has noted at her site awhile back, include friends of mine who were in there as firefighters. I certainly wouldn't scream and have a tantrum to insist, "You are so wrong! You don't know what you're talking about! You're looney!" I wasn't there, I don't know what happened. Nor do I have the time to find out. I think it's great that anyone with questions should pursue them. I think it's foolish to be dismissive of things you know nothing about -- and when you've reduced several theories into one unified 'string' theory, you don't know enough to speak on the subject. Any avenue pursued, on any issue, can produce something of value. That's why people research to begin with. People with conclusions today may continue to research and reach other conclusions. To those who are researching, more power to you. I'm not going to slam you or tell you that "You must stop! I am the all knowing, all controlling power in the universe." Rothschild, in that column, appeared to think he was. And this point needs to be made, Dona heard it in a thing I wrote for hours and then pulled, on Thursday night, that it's not just a column. Katrina vanden Heuvel isn't just a writer for The Nation. With her position comes expectations and responsibilites. The same is true for Rothschild. Had a columnist for the magazine written the same piece in exactly the same manner, it probably would have been greeted differently. When the editor and chairperson of the board does, the reaction is different. It's even more different when it's on a topic that the magazine's never addressed. As the editor, if you're going after something and slamming some on the left, you might need to have offered a balance of some form. A discussion, or whatever. That wasn't done.

Rebecca: Look, I know Dona's called five minutes, but I'll pull my topic because I want to stay on this for a second. There was a thing you wrote, you, C.I., and pulled, many things, on Thursday, that Jim told me about. I want to talk about that. Briefly, at my website, I write what I want, if someone doesn't like it, in the words of Cedric, "Oh well." I can do that, we can all do that except you. There's a different level, so talk about that.

C.I.: Briefly, we have a diverse group of members in The Common Ills community. What I can do here and what I can do there are different. But even with that --

Jess: You scream bloody murder if something is included here that's going to offend or treat a member as though they're not important or their issue doesn't matter.

C.I.: Right. I'm not doing a blog. Rebecca is. That's her journal. I'm expected to speak to the issues that matter to the community and, many times, to speak for. That's not boo-hoo. It's not a burden. But it does mean that I take the community's diversity into account when writing something at The Common Ills. To stick with Rebecca, if she upsets someone, she has readers, if she upsets them, her attitude is "Oh well." The community is members and they deserve to be treated with respect. I have never intentionally disrespected them. When I have unintentionally done so, I have immediately apologized. But, to drag out the dead fern one more time, in November of 2004, I thought I'd be writing about an issue very dear to me, water rights, within days. I still haven't written that. I may never write that. There are always issues members want addressed. Members dictate the content and the approach. I don't say "stupid" in real life. What the site started as and how it ended up are based on what the members wanted. And language choices are often made to make sure the site, the main one, is work-place friendly and no one ends up in trouble for visiting due to foul language. I work from an approved list of words. I work from an approved list of topics. There are highlights we have by people I know personally and do not like. That's fine. I don't say, "Oh, I don't like ___." The Common Ills isn't, to put in Daniel Okrent terms, "What I wanted to write about." By the same token, with all the hats Matthew Rothschild wears it strikes me as strange that he doesn't grasp each hat carries additional responsibilities.

Ava: And I'll note, we polled, one of the first polls in the gina & krista round-robin in fact, on whether C.I. could cut loose here in the reviews. Members were behind that. But what we do together here in the reviews, couldn't be done word for word at The Common Ills. There are different hats and different responsibilities and until Jess and I started working The Common Ills e-mails, we really didn't grasp that. This week alone, let's just focus on visitors, there were four people who needed an attorney, three who hopefully will contact the ACLU which was recommended in addition to information for individual attorneys, and one whom we think is working on a paper and needed contact info for a specific humran rights attorney in England.
The most that we get at The Third Estate Sunday Review is a request of where to find a song. At The Common Ills, focusing on visitors again, someone wrote in who was raped and she wanted to know resources. And that's just some of the visitors. It's a very different group of people. They are very vocal and when something goes up, especially if it's not Iraq related, it's because it's an issue to a member or members and they are very upset. I imagine Rebecca gets similar e-mails from her high school readers.

Jess: Which isn't an insult to Rebecca.

Ava: Right. It's not. That's the core audience for Rebecca.

Rebecca: The kids love me and my potty mouth. But yeah, rape's an issue that I get e-mails on and domestic abuse. But it's nothing like what C.I. does. I mean, I joke about the whole "We're a resource/review" but that truly is how the community and many members see it [The Common Ills]. And my point, in asking that it be noted in this discussion, is that Matthew Rothschild, to repeat, isn't just a columnist for the magazine. He is the face of the magazine. Why he wanted to present a hateful, demeaning face, I have no idea but that's what the column did.

Jim: We need to wrap up but I'll note something else that got pulled. If you don't believe in the truth movement, why are you writing about it? Kat writes about in terms of Guns & Butter and does so because members of the community felt that the issue was being ignored.

C.I.: I'm happy to highlight anything a member wants but I'm not an expert on that topic and I won't play insta-expert. I've always stated that anything a member wants to write on 9-11, their memories, what they expereienced, their thoughts in any form, would go up. Ruth tried to include it due to requests and wasn't able to for the same reason. Gina and Krista have included things by members with varying points of review in their round-robin and they have insisted, rightly, that everyone participating be treated with respect.

Jim: Which brings it back to my point. If you're someone who doesn't write about it, why are you making your biggest piece something on that topic? And where is the respect in that? I'm not seeing it. What I think I may be seeing is someone wants everyone to follow him --

Rebecca: Top-down leadership.

Jim: Right. Rothschild's bent out of shape because people who could be his disciples, working on his approved issues, are instead working on something else. "Get over it"? Right back at you, Matty. People need to research. If it's something so important to them that they will put their time into it, I say applaud their efforts. That doesn't mean I have to agree with them or that I disagree with them. It does mean that they are working towards something they believe in and it's not calling for an attack on another country or sending in the Marines.

Ty: Right, I've got more in common with someone researching any current event than I do with the modern day Carrie Nations.

Dona: The fact of the matter is that it was a dishonest column. It was dishonest in terms of the voice Rothschild usually speaks with, which he tossed out the window for this smarmy piece, and it was dishonest in terms of taking from various strands what he wanted to use to embarrass or mock people with and presenting it as a single, unified theory. There's nothing "Progressive" about that. We have to touch on Alexander Cockburn because Jess said an angry visitor, to The Common Ills, keeps harping on the fact that Cockburn got a pass. Kat?

Kat: Well Cockburn's voice isn't Rothschild's. Alexander Cockburn's always angry. You learn to enjoy the passion if you like his writing, which I do, and you always know it could explode at you.

C.I.: I'd agree with that but I'd also note that the passionate writing . . . I'm trying to choose my words carefully because I don't want this to be seen as a slam at him. It's not intended as such.

Dona: We don't have time for careful wording.

C.I.: Okay, he gets very animated. And he makes statements. And if they offend you, you can usually find a place to say, "Oh look, he was so angry in this column that he forgot about . . ." Such as when he wrote about online journalism and referred to Jason Leopold in a derogatory manner. E-mails came in on that. I replied to those with issues over the column, "I don't think he remembered it when he wrote the column, but CounterPunch has run Leopold's work many times."

Rebecca: Right because the message, on Leopold, in that column was something to the effect of, "And look at what some people will post online and where are the standards that a writer like this can be published." And the fact of the matter is a writer like that can be published at CounterPunch and had been, many times. Alex isn't trying to be the nice guy who lives next door. Rothschild's repeatedly written in that voice.

Cedric: I want to add something.

Dona: Cedric's will be the last word and please note that I'm fully aware Wally hardly said a word and that Betty's next on the list after. This was a free-for-all and everyone was told that before the round-table started. On this one, everyone's responsible for themselves. Cedric, go.

Cedric: First off, I was offended by his Ward Churchill piece sometime ago and that goes into this. I think the issue that concerned a lot of people who were offended, was that it was an attempt to draw a line and say, "Look at me, I'm respectable." The way the psuedo-defense/psuedo-slam of Ward Churchill read. I think that there can be a need to draw lines. I think the left's biggest problem is an eagerness to draw lines that shut out the people we'd most agree with. You can apply that to the issue of people who have serious doubts about the administration regardless of what the doubts are and you can take that to race as well.

Dona: One minute.

Cedric: As an African-American, I know very well how the lines get drawn that exclude. Keesha was outraged by Rothschild's column and she's someone who doesn't belive in the truth movement. She's not ragging on it, but she doesn't believe in it. The reason she was outraged was because it felt to her like line drawing. This rush towards respectable shuts a lot of people out -- sometimes due to beliefs and sometimes due to gender, due to skin color, due to sexuality, you name it. If he has problems with the movement, he should have taken great strides, considering that I've never seen an African-American in the magazine as a regular writer, to make sure that it did not come off like line drawing.

Dona: And that's it. We may touch on this topic again.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }