Sunday, October 31, 2010


Jim: Last week, we had a round table with one ground rule : No WikiLeaks. This week, it's the focus. Swiping from C.I., Friday October 22nd, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to. That is the focus of this roundtable. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, 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 Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration.


Jim (Con't): As Ruth noted in Friday's "Chocolate," C.I. is sick of the topic. Not because it's not important but because she has covered it and covered it last week, every day, over and over. I'm going to bring in Kat, Ruth and Wally on this section. First up, Ruth, talk about what you blogged on.

Ruth: Sure. Friday, at Trina's, C.I. spoke to the Iraq Study Group about the WikiLeaks release and it was indepth and covered the information, the media coverage and various reactions. It was really informative and a great presentation. Afterwards, I was talking to her, to C.I., and mentioned that all these elements could be pulled together for a great article and she talked about how tired she was of the topic. That's because so many have lied or ignored key details, that's because she had to keep it on the front burner every day and a number of other reasons. But, the point is, she did the heavy lifting and she is pretty much done with it now. It will be referred to, it will be noted but it will not be the focus.

Jim: Thank you, Ruth. As readers should know, C.I. is participating less and less in roundtables. We want her participation in this one so we're going elsewhere to cover this aspect. Ava, Wally and Kat are on the road with C.I. each week speaking out against the wars. I'm bringing in Kat and Wally to pick up where Ruth left off.

Kat: Well, I mean, I think it was Tuesday or Monday maybe when someone -- Ned Parker? -- at The Los Angeles Times had an important article and there was no time for it all week. C.I. could not make room for it or for a strong and important article by Leila Fadel of The Washington Post. These were not minor stories and they weren't the only ones that were pushed aside. C.I. made real time to cover Don't Ask, Don't Tell but she couldn't make room for those stories -- by Parker and Fadel -- and other similar stories. Now that wasn't the plan going in. Sunday night, I went over to get some help editing "Kat's Korner: Cher and the too far gone 70s" and, while C.I. was reading over what I'd written, I asked about the WikiLeaks story. Her thoughts then were that she would have to cover it in Monday's snapshot, she was asking friends in the MSM to cover it and would have to grab any that did and include their coverage in the snapshot but, otherwise, after Monday, she hoped it would be one of the stories and not the dominant one in the snapshots. That's not how it worked out at all. And I'll let Wally come in here.

Wally: Right. It didn't work out that way at all because there were so many outlets ignoring it. So every day C.I. was strategizing before dictating the snapshot of how to cover this story in a way that drew attention in some way. That included going after John Burns, knowing that would get some attention -- not that he wasn't worth going after, that included going after the paper, The New York Times, for their one-sided lesson plan that would misteach kids about the revelations. I've never seen her work that hard before dictating to figure out a hook that could interest people. Most of the time, she doesn't care and doesn't have the time. But she was very aware that The Nation, The Progressive, etc. were ignoring WikiLeaks.

Trina: If I can jump in, Wally's mother could not reach him Monday. I have no idea what the problem was. She kept getting a message that his cell phone was out of service. She mentioned that to me on the phone wondering if I'd heard from him, C.I., Ava or Kat? I hadn't but I said I'd try to call. I called Wally and got right through -- it must have been a service issue -- and he shared with me about how, on Monday, C.I. was already working on how to attract attention to the story. So I then called Rebecca and asked her what the rest of us could do? And she offered suggestions that we tended to follow at our sites in terms of attempting topics that might garner attention from people who wouldn't normally read our sites so that they would be exposed to the snapshots which were covering the WikiLeaks. We worked really hard at that.

Dona: I'll say. We have Marcia, a lesbian, covering gay porn in "Guest" and how about "Check out the rack on Superman"? I mean those were attention getting.

Marcia: Right and for the reasons that Trina outlined. I mean, I could probably speak on the WikiLeaks revelations for about 20 minutes as a result of C.I.'s coverage in the snapshots. I think I'm now educated on the revelations; however, at the start of the week? All I could have done was rewrite what C.I. had already written. But, yeah, I could cover these other topics -- the new costume for Superman --

Isaiah: Which, by the way, looks like Black Canary's costume.

Marcia: That's so true. I wish I'd thought of that. But, yeah, I could write about those topics and try to draw attention. That's what I did, that's what so many of us did.

Jim: Marcia, talked about the snapshots, anyone else find info elsewhere?

Ann: No. Elsewhere the subject was ignored or you were usually misdirected. There was a huge effort -- Ava and C.I. note this in their piece this week -- to push the blame off on Bush if you covered this story, to pretend that the documents offered nothing on Iraq from the period after Barack was sworn in. It was very damning and telling of what we're supposed to call independent media. I wanted to write something on WikiLeaks last week and never ended up doing it, sorry. I was following C.I.'s coverage -- and could follow it -- but, like Marcia said, if I'd written about it, I would have just been rewriting C.I. Some of us did offer some coverage of it, Trina, Mike, Ruth, Betty, Elaine and I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. But it was very difficult.

Jim: In what way?

Ann: It was too much absorb. Betty and I were talking about that.

Betty: Nearly 400,000 documents released all at once? That was idiotic. If each action report was only two pages -- they weren't -- that would still be 800,000 pages. That's way too much. I really think WikiLeaks made a huge mistake. I don't think they handled the release correctly at all and I'm talking about redactions.

Rebecca: I'll jump in on this because I agree with Betty completely. Last week, here, we did "Editorial: WikiLeaks' document release" and it included this point, "If WikiLeaks made any big mistake in their Friday release of US military documents pertaining to the Iraq War, it was in releasing them on Friday and so late on Friday. The news cycle remains a Monday through Friday cycle. You've never noticed how many times MSNBC runs so many of those bookend programs Crimes Caught on Camera and Caught On Camera?" There was debate about whether or not we were going to include that point and it was really only when Ava and C.I. got on board that everyone agreed -- Ava and C.I. came up with the MSNBC programs ref. The reason there was debate was that we didn't want to undermine the release. And there's still a feeling of that but, reality, the bulk of the coverage has taken place. Anything we say now is not going to effect coverage. So here's some reality: That was a stupid f**king thing for WikiLeaks to do. Both in terms of releasing nearly 400,000 documents and doing so after 5:00 p.m. on a Friday. That was so f**king stupid. They need to get their act together. I don't care about rumors of what Julian Assange did or didn't do. I do care that they learn how to handle a release and a release is not putting out more documents than can be read in a single day. Nor is it doing a release after the news cycle on Friday. It was stupid, it was ignorant and it was strictly amateur hour. I'll let other people play diplomatic, I worked in public relations. I know how you handle a release. This was an embarrassment.

Jim: And, like Betty, you're not talking about redactions?

Rebecca: Yeah, I'm not talking about that. I could care less about that. I'm talking about a release an how you handle it. Here's another thing you don't do, release papers one day and do a press conference the next. That again was stupid.

Jim: You sound angry.

Rebecca: I'm very angry about it and I keep reminding myself, "Don't blame the victim." The victim being WikiLeaks. But for maxium coverage and exposure, everything they did was wrong. And that's embarrassing.

Jim: Betty?

Betty: I agree with what Betty said. The whole thing was like a bad movie and all the worse because you saw some people -- like C.I. -- attempting to draw attention to the revelations despite the fact that WikiLeaks had already ensured that they would attract as little attention as possible. And I am mad at them. And I think they either need to just post documents on their website in the future or get their act together. This was a huge embarrassment and the fact that WikiLeaks was under attack doesn't minimize the humilitation. They need to conduct themselves professionally and there was damn little that was professional.

Jim: Anyone want to offer a counter-opinion on that? Okay, no. Elaine, in "The Whoring of America," you took on Matthew Rothschild, of The Progressive, for his grandstanding -- in brief audio spots -- on the revelations while refusing to write about them at his magazine. Anything you want to grab from that?

Elaine: First off, the title comes from C.I.'s snapshot of that day. I clearly credit C.I. in my writing and the snapshot appears below my writing but Sunny, my assistant, found e-mail after e-mail praising me for coining that phrase. It was C.I.'s phrase. After that, I would point out that I'm not three-years-old. You can't easily trick me. But you can insult me. I am not warn over by grandstanding when you fail to use your own platform to amplify an issue. Matthew Rothschild should have written about it, should have his staff writing about it. Instead they were penning valentines to the lunatic Bob Herbert. Or take Alexander Cockburn who wasted everyone's time with a column Friday on the elections when he should have been writing about WikiLeaks.

Mike: And the story always was the one captured in Angus Stickler's "Obama administration handed over detainees despite reports of torture" (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism) but somehow if someone did manage to cover the WikiLeaks release, they couldn't find that aspect. It was forever cover up for Barack, over and over.

Jim: Did that surprise you?

Mike: At this late date and considering their whoring for Barack? Hell no. It was completely in keeping. They can't tell you a damn thing. They won't. They refuse to. Handing over prisoners to people you know are guilty of torture is a War Crime. And search in vain for any 'independent' coverage telling you that.

Stan: And AP did try to cover that last week. Paisley Dodds co-wrote an article on it. Dodds has a new article out on the same topic which opens, "President Barack Obama stepped into the White House pledging to end George W. Bush's gloves-off approach to interrogations and detention ---- but a flood of leaked documents suggests that old habits were hard to break." I'd love to see this take off at last but I doubt that's going to happen.

Cedric: I would agree with you on both counts. Nothing's going to change because they're incapable of changing -- Beggar Media. They whore for Barack, that's all they do. They refuse to do their jobs and they've refused it since 2007 as they've whored repeatedly. Who are we supposed to trust at this late date? How many times can they lie to us? It's like Elaine was saying, we're not three-years-old.

Ava: If I could make a point about 'independent' media, in the piece C.I. and I wrote for this edition, we're talking about Ray McGovern and how he's on four different Pacifica programs offering bad narrative on WikiLeaks. Now not only is it bad information or analysis that he's offering, this goes to the problem with Pacifica. In the pre-internet days, they could pull this crap off and get away with it but today people can catch on. It's the same damn program from station to station masquerading as 'independent' media. Oh, look, so-and-so has a new book, they'll do the Pacifica rounds and everyone will act as if they and they alone are providing this. The sameness to be found from station to station, program to program. Pacifica is nothing but "57 Channels and there's nothing on."

Jess: And that's so true. Laura Flanders, for example, has another bad book out. Bob Somerby on the book:

At the start of that GritTV chat, host Laura Flanders promoted "a new book I had the honor of editing." Here is its title: "At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Whitey Whiteness of The New Republican Right." In an electorate which is 74 percent white, this type of casual racial denigration may not be the best political play. But such casual denigration has become amazingly common on ours, the "progressive" side.

Jess (Con't): I'm so sick of that media whore. She's so damn stupid. She wants to insult people from various states in this country but somebody forgot to tell the used-up whore that her faux British accent doesn't really allow her to sneer at people from Oklahoma, for example, and come off looking good. She's is a trashy piece of s**t and this needs to be established because while Ava and C.I. have repeatedly held that s**t accountable, reading the e-mails here, I'm not sure that other people get that we are in agreement with them. But we are. And by the way, if you taped 5 TV shows and only had African-American guests -- two people -- on one of them all week, maybe you shouldn't be tossing "whitey-whitness" unless you're tossing at your own self. Now she's teaming up with Amy Goodman for an election 'special' so you know that means the two whores are going to be scratching each other's backs and probably lower as well. But it's all one big circle jerk and then they whine about that taking place elsewhere. Which makes clear that their real problem with MSM's circle jerk is that they're not invited to pull on Brian Williams' pole. The reality is that the same system in the MSM that they decry has been recreated by them. They're whores and they are liars. That's all they'll ever be.

Ty: And Jess is correct, e-mails to this site repeatedly express confusion as to whether or not the rest of us agree with Ava and C.I. on that issue and that's partly due to the fact that before Laura Flanders began mainlining the crazy, we had praised her repeatedly. She is a trickster. We do not support her. We don't support liars period and we really think Eurotrash needs to return to its own countries.

Jim: Okay, Dona's doing the wind-down motion. C.I., you didn't want to talk about it, anything to add to the conversation?

C.I.: The only thing that wasn't touched on, as far as I can tell, was that for years we've heard the excuses from Pacifica and the rest that they can't cover Iraq more because it's too dangerous for them to have a reporter there. They had reporters in Vietnam but Iraq they can't handle. How interesting. But with the WikiLeaks release? They didn't need to be an Iraq. They couldn't sit on their fat asses like they do every day and go through the documents. That proved to be too much for them and demonstrated the reality that they just never gave a damn about the Iraq War as anything other a fundraising tool.

Jim: And on that note, we will conclude. This is a rush transcript.

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