Sunday, July 18, 2010

Truest statement of the week

Elaine and I were in jail for the 52 hours -- at least we got to stay together -- when we weren't trying to sleep on the stone-cold cement floors -- we talked about the pathetic antiwar movement and sort of felt sorry for ourselves being locked up for so long for such minor infractions that were still principled stands. However, we agreed then and we agreed yesterday after the trial was over -- we would do this again and keep doing it until the wars end and our troops quit killing innocent people for the Empire and come home to get the help they need to reintegrate healthfully and wholly back into society.
We can't help it -- we are serial Peace Criminals.

-- Cindy Sheehan, "Government Persecutors Read my Blog by Cindy Sheehan" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another week, another long edition. Along with Dallas, the following helped on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
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,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. We thank Isaiah and Betty's kids for the illustrations and Kat.

What did we come up with?

Cindy Sheehan.

We knew we were going to make Lynne the editorial especially after we saw Isaiah's black & white drawing of Lynne. Betty's kids added some color to it (red is Betty's daughter's favorite color) and some effects with Kat's help. We think this is the strongest editorial we've done in months.

And this is the article for the issue. We love it. Ava and C.I. turned out masterpiece here. I (Jim) informed them this would be the feature right after the editorial. It didn't make sense to bury this. It was too powerful and way too important. Read it and you will agree.

Normally, their TV article goes right below the editorial. Ava and C.I. wrote this and I planned to have it lower in the mix. They don't fight about credit but they did argue on the placement of this. How come? Read the article. They felt what they were writing (praising the work of someone they don't care for) would be erased if this wasn't high up in the mix. So we put it after their other piece.

Ty's Corner is our Iraq piece and we thank Ty for that. He went off and wrote this all on his own to ensure that we had one Iraq piece.

This was a fun piece. Dress up Carl Davidson. Isaiah did the illustrations

Our roundtable covering Carl Davidson and a number of other issues.
Ava and C.I. heard this in real time and planned to bring it here but they got saddled with so much that there wasn't time. Due to Rivers attacking someone (next), they decided to tackle it now. We're glad they did. They wrote this by themselves. They refused a credit saying the piece was just a transcript piece.

Linsday Loham. Would a man being going to jail in the same situation?

Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor and published of The Nation magazine. And she wishes, really, really, that some progressive women would get highlighted. But what can littlle old her do? Except maybe see that those progressive women got highlighted.

Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Ruth, Cedric, Ann, Stan, Wally and Marcia wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we got. Hopefully something made you laugh or made you think or pissed you off. A long session. Even I'm falling asleep as I type.


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

Editorial: She broke no law

Who is Lynne Stewart?


Like many women, she has many roles. She is the attorney who took on the clients that didn't bring in the big pay days but that needed defending. She's a noted chapter in the story of Civil Rights. She's a mother and a grandmother. She's the wife of Ralph Poynter. She's a breast cancer survivor. She's a woman who can step in front of a saddened and depressed group of people and have them on their feet and motivated in less than ten minutes. She's a woman who loves "the good fight" and will fight it regardless of whether or not she thinks she can win. She's a woman who fights "the good fight" but never forgets or loses her sense of humor.

Somehow she became a prisoner of the US penal system.


We're still confused on that.

Not only are we confused, we think history's going to be confused as well.

At its website, the Federal Bureau of Prisons loftily explains/brags, "The Federal Bureau of Prisons protects society by confining offenders in the controlled environments of prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure, and that provide work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens."

Oh, okay. The BOP takes criminals and turns them into law abiding citizens? Okay. Maybe. But they take criminals, right? They take people who broke the law. You have no need to take someone who followed the law and teach them to be law abiding citizens, right?

The implication being, if you follow the law, you're fine.

That's how it's supposed to work.

But Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner. She's not in prison because she broke a law. There is no law on the books that anyone can point to and say, "This is the law that Lynne broke."

Lynne's an attorney. She knows the law is the law. She knows things are open to interpretation.

She broke an agreement.

We don't dispute that. She doesn't dispute that.

The prisons imposed a list of conditions. If she didn't say she'd follow them, she couldn't see her client. But these were conditions, not laws. Only Congress can pass federal laws. The executive branch cannot pass laws. (BOP is a part of the executive branch, it falls under the Justice Department.)

Lynne's 'crime' was releasing a press statement from her client to Reuters' news agency.

The idea that Lynne was breaking the law is ludicrous because there is no law. The idea that Lynne interpreted the conditions as laws is silly not only because Lynne is trained in the law but also because why would she release a press release if she thought it would get her sentenced to prison?

She skirted the conditions. We don't dispute that. But conditions are not laws. Things that the executive branch wants are not laws unless Congress sees fit to make them laws.

Lynne did what she did -- which wasn't a crime -- in 2000. Bill Clinton was the president then. Janet Reno was US Attorney General. Reno knew about the conditions. She approved of them. She also knew Lynne had broken them. She made the decision not to prosecute because she's smart enough to know that a law is a law. Nothing but a law passed by Congress constitutes a law.

The Bush administration was installed by the Supreme Court at the end of 2000 and sworn in at the start of 2001. Arianna Huffington's friend John Ashcroft (she loves his "marvelous" -- her term -- singing voice) became Attorney General -- proof positive that fate is either severely f**ked up or the ultimate prankster. And Ashcroft wanted Lynne behind bars. So, after 9-11, he decided to grand stand on 9-11 and make Lynne's 2000 actions -- which had nothing to do with 9-11 -- all about 9-11.

He scared up a verdict of guilty -- though no one's ever supposed to point out that you can't be found legally guilty of breaking a condition. You can only be found legally guilty of breaking the law. No law was broken.

Lynne got a judge who seemed to realize that a travesty had taken place. He sentenced her to 28 months and not the 30 years the government wanted.

Barack Obama could have issued a pardon or commuted her sentence. He didn't do so. Instead, he had the Justice Department go after Lynne. Instead of 28 months, they wanted a stronger sentence. And last week, the government monkeys showed up screeching in court about 9-11 all over again. And the judge sentenced 70-year-old Lynne Stewart (she'll be 71 in October) to ten years of prison.

And Lynne broke no law.

History's going to have a really fun time trying to unravel how that happened. It will also puzzle over how so many people were silent as Lynne was targeted and persecuted.

Lynne's a political prisoner.

One of the best radio broadcasts last week was n Taking Aim on WBAI. They devoted the full hour to a rally for Lynne. This was before the judge's sentencing. We're sure they have something planned for this Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. EST. We're also sure that few others will make the time to notice. But Lynne's a political prisoner. She never belonged in prison and she certainly *didn't* deserve a sentence of ten years.

C.I. note, 7-18-2010: "*didn't*" just added. Thank you to TCI community member Brandon who e-mailed TCI to say we were missing a word in the last sentence. We were tired, our apologies and thank you to Brandon for catching it.

Of stupidity and NPR (Ava and C.I.)

Was she born stupid or did she have to work really hard at it?

That's the question those in the news industry ask more and more of Rachel Maddow who, for the record, is not in the news industry and is nothing but a bad talk show host.

Actually, that's not true. She's also a glory hog and that's what's helped lead to the latest round of ridicule. The Maddow Show airs daily during the week on MSNBC -- which means few people bother to watch it. And Maddow's desperate for greater attention -- apparently her father can't help inflate her popularity the way he allegedly did as numerous 'people' commenting on the Unfiltered blog in that Air America radio show's final days.

So Rachel thought she'd found just the way to get more attention, a scoop The Maddow Show had. And since it appeared on her blog, the scoop was shopped around as a Rachel exclusive. And if others read as little as Maddow, she might have gotten away with it. But Laura Conaway wrote the blog post and did the 'reporting' such as it is.

However, as the 'scoop' explodes, we're more than willing to credit the bad reporting to Rachel Maddow herself.

This isn't the first wave of self-promotion for The Maddow Blog. Felix Gillette (New York magazine) reported in May on an earlier attempt by Rachel to push the blog and claim it was better than the show. (Having sampled The Maddow Show, we'd agree the blog is better but argue that few things could be worse and refer those late to the party to Bob Somerby's Daily Howler where he has repeatedly documented the loose-with-facts Maddow.)

The latest wave begins with a Maddow Blog 'exclusive.' And we'll walk you through all the crazy -- which, no surprise, includes smutty Terry Gross -- but we need to start with reality about an interview Terry Gross did with Louie C.K. We have to start there because no one else has -- certainly not The Maddow Blog, certainly not The Maddow Blog's dim witted fan base.

Let's remember that Terry Gross is the White woman who, in 2009, felt it was her right to use the n-word on air. Repeatedly. We're censoring a word that we don't use at this site, that we have never used at this site. The show didn't censor it. It was used repeatedly in the interview with Louie C.K. which aired July 7th. From the show's official transcript:

GROSS: My guest is comic Louie C.K., and he has a new series, in which he stars as a character named Louis C.K.. It's on FX Tuesday nights, right after "Rescue Me," and in this one, he plays a comic and a divorced single father. There's a great scene in the second episode. You're playing poker with a bunch of comics. One of the comics is gay, and so everybody's kind of ragging on him, but they're also kind of curious about certain things that gay people do and where they hang out. And then you ask if he minds when you use the word f**got in a routine. And I want to play an excerpt of that scene.

Mr. C.K.: Sure.

(Soundbite of television program, "Louie")

Mr. C.K.: (As Louie) Does it offend you when I say that word?

Mr. RICK CROM (Comedian): (As Rick) What word, hello?

Mr. C.K.: No, f**got.

Unidentified Man #1: (As character) Yes, does it bother you when he says the word f**got?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CROM: No, it bothers me when you say it because you mean it.

Mr. C.K.: Yeah, but really, it's like, as a comedian, a gay guy, you're the only gay comic I know. Do you think I shouldn't be using that word onstage?

Mr. CROM: I think you should use whatever words you want. I mean, when you use it onstage, I can see it's funny, and I don't care. But are you interested to know what it might mean to gay men?

Mr. C.K.: Yeah, I am interested.

Mr. CROM: Well, the word f**got really means a bundle of sticks used for kindling in a fire. Now, in the Middle Ages, when they used to burn people they thought were witches, they used to burn homosexuals, too. And they used to burn the witches at a stake, but they thought the homosexuals were too low and disgusting to be given a stake to be burned on. So they used to just throw them in with the kindling, with the other f**gots. So that's how you get flaming f**got.

Mr. C.K.: So what you're saying is gay people are a good alternative fuel source.

Unidentified Man #1: That's how they get the term diesel dyke.

Mr. C.K.: I'm sorry, go ahead.

Mr. CROM: You might want to know that every gay man in America has probably had that word shouted at them when they're being beaten up, sometimes many times, sometimes by a lot of people all at once. So when you say it, it kind of brings that all back up. But, you know, by all means use it, get your laughs. But, you know, now you know what it means.

Unidentified Man #2: (As character) Okay, thanks, f**got, we'll keep that in mind.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: That's a scene from Louie C.K.'s new series, "Louie." So who is the comic who is explaining what the word f**got means?

Mr. C.K.: That's Rick Crom. And Rick is a comedian, lives in New York City, and he's just this guy who I met. I started in Boston, when I was about 18 years old, doing standup. And in Boston, you didn't meet a lot of openly gay people. Usually, when people said I'm gay, the next thing they would say is ouch, you know. People - it wasn't a very giving place that way. And when I moved to New York City, he's probably the first openly gay person I ever met, I think. It's possible. I don't know, but definitely the first gay comedian I met. Anyway, Rick, when I met him, I had that conversation with him about the word f**got. I asked him about it, and he said pretty much that to me. I mean, I wrote that scene as written. But he said it that way too, that he didn't lecture me or say you shouldn't say it. He just said, hey, if you're interested, it's totally devastating, and he gave me that information. And I never forgot it. I mean, I was about 22. I have said f**got on stage a number of times since then, but I don't - I know what I'm saying, and I know what it means now.

GROSS: So if you still use the word f**got on stage, how do you use it? What's the context?

Mr. C.K.: Well, I feel like when I get asked that, I get defensive about it. I start saying oh, well, no, it's okay that I say f**got because this or that, but to be really honest with you, I'm not sure why I say it. [. . .] So that again, to say yeah, I'm a fat f**got, and then find out what gay people feel about it and then say it, talk about that. I think that's all positive. Talking is always positive. That's why I talk too much.

GROSS: I never heard that explanation of the word f**got or flaming f**got before. Is that, like, etymologically true?

Mr. C.K.: I don't know, and I've actually read things online where people are saying that's not accurate. I don't think it matters. I love that on all sorts of websites and gay blogs and stuff that this scene has sort of, like, stirred up conversation, which I think is just healthy. And this scene is about a guy who believes that to be the true origin of the word, and it's about his feelings about it and what impact it has on me. If it's not the real explanation of the word f**got, I don't think it matters. The point of the scene isn't to be accurate. It's not a news show. It's an exchange between characters.

First, of course, it doesn't matter to that piece of crap 'comic' whether the definition is accurate or not -- as his attitude makes clear, he doesn't give a damn, he just wants the freedom to express his fear and hatred of gay men. Got it, we understand. What we don't understand is how NPR continues to allow that s**t from Terry Gross.

We're counting at least fifteen times that two straight people used the f-term on that broadcast. Fifteen times, they used a hateful, derogatory expression. And it was 'okay' because it was historical? Well, Louie C.K. admits he doesn't know and doesn't care whether it was historical or factual, it's all about the "exchange between characters." You mean the exchange where multiple straight people put one gay person on the spot? Or the exchange where the gay man is the employee and the Louie C.K. -- who gets the last word -- is the employer? In what world is there any way to justify that?

There's not. So Maddow and others ignore the exchange.

Mississippi Public Radio pulled Terry Gross' Not-So-Fresh Air from the airwaves.

Discussing Fresh Air requires a few notes/disclosures. First of all, Ann covers Fresh Air at her site Ann's Mega Dub. We invited her to participate in the writing of this article but she said the two-week vacation she's been on from Fresh Air (with one exception) doesn't end until Monday and she intends to enjoy herself. We fully understand. The second aspect is Alica Shepard.

Alicia Shepard took issue with what we wrote here at an earlier date. What exactly? We're not sure because we responded to her e-mail on July 5th, she responded to us, we responded to that and that was the last exchange.

At the end of that, her second response, it became clear she hadn't read "Media: Let's Kill Helen!" when we took her to task for going on KPFA and making false assertions about Helen Thomas (ones she couldn't even back up when asked for examples by Aimee Allison). No, it emerged she was unfamiliar with that -- this despite suggesting to us that we review the transcript of the interview. The transcript, Alicia?

Alicia Sheppard's referring us to a KPFA transcript? Alicia, KPFA does not do transcripts. The closest to a transcript that broadcast of The Morning Show will ever have is the quotes in our article.

What had her upset? It appears to be (correct us, if we're wrong) that we had repeated that NPR friends (producers and execs) informed us of her upcoming study -- including the findings -- and told us that she had decided to take a pass on The Diane Rehm Show and Fresh Air when examining whether or not there was a gender bias on air at NPR.

We're not sure what piece she saw because we actually wrote about that several times (as we informed her in our last e-mail). We first wrote about it April 4th in "WMC: Too pathetic (Ava and C.I.)." In that article, we explain in paragraph six that the piece started with a call on Friday night from a Women's Media Center friend who wanted us to write about a WMC blog post about the study Alicia Shepard did. For those late to the party, unless we're on vacation (less than six weeks a year), we're on the road. We wrap up in Boston on Fridays and fly back home to California on Saturdays (and are back out on the road on Mondays). So a Friday night call prompted the article we worked on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Let's go to the article:

When we were told of the study two weeks ago by NPR friends, we immediately asked what programs were being studied? We knew it wasn't all the programs. We knew that was too much work for the lazy ombudsperson. We were told it was Morning Edition and All Things Considered and right away we saw the problem. They do tiny segments. Five and six minute reports are considered "long." They're far from gender balanced but if you were really interested in the imbalance, you'd look to other NPR shows.

Alicia, we apologize for the use of the term "lazy." We don't think you're a lazy person and that was wrong of us to call you that. We were wrong and we say we're sorry. We also called you "idiotic" and, based on your e-mail exchange, you're not that either. So we were wrong there as well and say we're sorry on that.

We'll further note that we may have made another mistake but, as with lazy, it wasn't a mistake Alicia brought up in her e-mails. What was the other mistake?

In her ombudsperson column that WMC wrote of, Alicia noted pundits on air Friday evenings and we point out that The NewsHour is PBS and not NPR. Two NPR friends have suggested Alicia was writing of All Things Considered and not The NewsHour to which we reply: NPR.

Meaning? "National" Public Radio. Not "East Coast" Public Radio. We're all over the road. We hear All Things Considered in some areas at 4:00 and 2:00 pm. That's not an evening show and we've never considered All Things Considered an evening show. The NewsHour is an evening show. If you're the ombudsperson of "National" Public Radio, you are writing for and answerable to a national audience and should be aware of different time zones.

So we won't be apologizing for that if it was an error. But we will say we're sorry for using "lazy" and "idiotic." (We'll also note that Alicia was idiotic on KPFA and we will issue no apologies for anything in "Media: Let's Kill Helen!" because we stand firmly with Helen Thomas. If there's a factual error in that piece, please let us know. Otherwise, we aren't interested.) The judgment calls -- poor ones on our part -- were not an issue that Alicia brought up.

She was bothered that we didn't phone her for a response.

Our response is: Why would we?

The story is dumped on us via a Friday night phone call calling in a favor. (And, no, the WMC friend did not feel a 'favor' had been done when she read our article.) We do some working of the phone (not a great deal) then. We go to sleep. We wake up and grab a flight back home, land and immediately have to catch up on several personal things going on while we were gone all week, attend at least one function and at least one dinner so friends and family don't feel snubbed and around ten o'clock PST begin writing. At which point, we make any calls we need to but are calling people we know who aren't going to be pissed (or surprised) that we're waking them up.

We never presented what we were told as what Alicia Shepard told us. We didn't know her -- and that was clear in the original article and in all that followed. We didn't know her, we'd never spoken to her. We certainly wouldn't have phoned her at two in the morning her time for a comment while writing the article if we'd had her phone number.

We understand why Alicia feels she should have been called. And we will agree that by today's journalism, Alicia is correct, she should have been called.

If you believe in the he-said, she-said school of journalism, she should have been called.

We don't. "So and so denied the charge . . ." Has that ever been news?


It's a false concept of 'balance,' to us. We've gone over it before many, many times. We presented what we were told and presented it as what we were told. There was no implication that we'd heard it from Alicia and there certainly was no outright claim that we had.

Alicia writes that she eliminated the two shows from her study for other reasons (Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show). Her study was about, for those who missed it, the number of men on air versus the number of women. Both Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show are built around guests. If you're going to examine a gender bias, these are the shows to tabulate, in our opinion.

Alicia says she eliminated the two shows for a reason: They aren't produced by NPR.

We took that back to NPR friends (as we informed Alicia in what was our last e-mail to her) and they not only stood by their comments, they pointed out what they saw as a false distinction. They brought up, for example, The New York Times characterizing The Diane Rehm Show as an NPR show and how there was no correction issued. (And we checked on that, no objection from NPR or The Diane Rehm Show was ever lodged with the paper over their editorial where they called the program an NPR program. In addition, we have at least one friend with The Diane Rehm Show -- at least one left -- and each week, the show is credited at The Common Ills as a NPR one and the friend has never objected to that -- although many other objections have been lodged.)

Alicia says the shows were eliminated because they weren't NPR shows, NPR friends insist that's not the case. Who's telling the truth?

We believe both are and that there's a misunderstanding going on, a lack of clarity.

Alicia, in her e-mails, came across as someone forthright and honest. We wish we knew her. We'd love to have a pitcher of margaritas or Bloody Marys (or both) with her one Saturday night and dissect the state of media and women. We think she's a highly informed person and has keen insights. She also seems like a fun person.

We don't think she's lying. We do think she's misunderstanding and that our NPR friends are misunderstanding her. (We love our NPR friends and have drank many bottles with them. Sadly they're not big fans of tequila or vodka. And two are in recovery -- from alcohol, not from our friendship although the latter may be just as damaging.)

But we will make a call on the issue of Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show. What is NPR's responsibility? It's an issue -- as NPR friends pointed out -- that we've taken up repeatedly -- and two pointed out are blistering attacks on them when Amy Goodman brought on Melissa Harris Lacewell in January 2008 as an unbiased observer to explain what was happening in New Hampshire -- with Goody and Lie Face Lacewell 'forgetting' to inform viewers that Lie Face joined the Barack campaign in 2007. Hillary won New Hampshire. Don't you think it's kind of strange that Lie Face never noted Hillary in her 'on the ground' 'report'?

If you're late to the party, do not write us that Lie Face announced she was a Barack campaigner. She did do that. The following week when she was brought back on to go Jerry Springer show on Gloria Steinem, she made that announcement. But we're referring to her being presented as an unbiased observer and allowed to 'report' the week prior to her assault on Gloria. It was a conflict of interest and the lack of disclosure was a violation of NPR guidelines.

NPR friends then said Democracy Now! wasn't an NPR show and we shot back that the NPR website provides a link to the show.

So, at the urging of NPR friends this time, to the website we turned.

For many reasons including that National Public Radio has a strong internet presence that is only going to get stronger and that streaming is up this year at NPR. And if you want to know what's NPR, you should be able to find out via NPR's own website, right?

Google NPR and, you'll notice, a number of programs are listed.


See Fresh Air, above? And, below, you'll notice Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show are among eleven shows the website elects to name.


And now we return to Fresh Air, specifically the transcript we've already linked to, the interview with Louie C.K. and can you read the copyright notice?


This non-NPR program has a transcript copyright by . . . National Public Radio.

Alicia Shepard's drawing a line based upon what used to be, in the pre-internet age. We're living in the world of what is (while longing for the world of what could be). And any visitor to the NPR website has every reason to expect that Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show will be ground the ombudsperson can stride across. There is no fence walling website visitors away from either program.

And while we like Alica and would much rather write of her, the topic dictates that we return the uglies: Terry Gross and Rachel Maddow.

As we trace the story, The Maddow Blog picked up on a post at the website A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South (which for some strange reason was credited as "Serenity Home" by Laura Conaway). There, a self-identified gay male blogger (and apparently a minister) speculated about MPB's decision to drop Fresh Air noting an e-mail that stated the program was cut "due to recurring inappropriate content." He doesn't listen to Fresh Air. He also isn't fully honest. On the last one, he's listing some shows and fudging the list. How do we know that? We cover Fresh Air with Ann and in his 'recent shows' he lists a few not so recent while implying all aired in July. We haven't yet covered Fresh Air (due to the holiday and Ann's vacation) for the month of June. So if we're recognizing the program, it aired in May or April. A fact that he 'forgets' to inform his readers. In his second post, he informs his readers that he "looked at one weeks worth of programs, reviews, political commentary because if this was indeed a recurring event than it would have to be, well-recurring." That's dishonest and disturbing. (Equally true, Fresh Air does not technically do "political commentary.")

First off, there is a pattern and many NPR stations are aware of it. When Ann was looking for a topic to cover (she dropped her coverage of The Morning Show over Aimee Allison's justification/endorsement of US drone attacks in Pakistan), we suggested Fresh Air to her because NPR friends so often bring the show up. We knew it would give her much to talk about (and endless headaches). There is a pattern and we'll get to that pattern. But first we need to note that you can't establish in one week a pattern. And it's appalling that the blogger thought he could do that.

His opinion was that Fresh Air was being dropped due to gay themes. It might seem strange that he didn't object to the use of the term f**got 15 times but, as was obvious as you read him, he didn't listen to the broadcasts, he merely read the topic summaries.

Enter Laura Conaway who wrote at The Maddow Blog, "Mississippi Public Broadcasting shares a campus with offices for the state's colleges and universities, and we have learned that some of those offices play public radio for callers who are on hold. Recently, a caller got put on hold during Fresh Air and heard Terry Gross ask comedian Louis C.K. if he always has sex with his shirt on."

Who's your source, Laura?

We don't need a name. We know how it works, a friend passes on this or that and that's your source. We're as inbred as anyone else when it comes to sourcing. But when we make a point of saying something, we source it. Laura didn't source it as "an NPR friend" or any way at all. She just made an assertion. (We're not faulting her for not seeking a reply from MPR before writing, please note. If she had her facts right, we'd be applauding Laura.)

According to Laura, the Louis C.K. show was the straw that broke Terry Gross' smut. And it was the guest stating he "always has sex with his shirt on." Do you remember the lengthy excerpt we offered at the start of this piece? That's later in that same interview. Do you remember the term f**got being used 15 times?

Laura never informs readers of that.

If you were a parent and you heard f**got on the radio 15 times while in the car with your child, might you object? We think you might and we think the term never should have been used, the clip never should have been played (its selection demonstrates that Terry planned to go there and the issue didn't just spring up by chance) and, yet again, her show was offensive. The parent objecting (if one did) wouldn't have to be some right winger. The parent could be a very pro-LGBT person, could even be a gay parent, and could rightfully be offended that the term was used 15 times by two straight people. [For the record, MPR is supposed to have dropped the show due to the pattern with the use of the f-word being the last straw. That's from NPR friends.]

Laura continued to repeat her claim that it was sex with a shirt on that got the program pulled.

She never once informed readers that the broadcast had included the word f**got being spoken 15 times. Why was that?

Bob Somerby might argue that this is another example of how that show traffics in stereotypes and, while one could see MPR's decision as a rejection of homophobia, The Maddow Show's derision aimed at certain types of people (including southerners) dictated that the story would always be spun as look-at-the-backward-fools. Providing the readers with the information that f**got was used 15 times would undercut the narrative Laura Conaway and The Maddow Show repeatedly attempt to sell so that was stripped from the narrative.

Terry Gross has a habit of crossing the taste line for a show that airs on NPR stations and does so via tax payer monies (as well as via listener donations and corporate sponsors). She has a pattern. For example, in March she was interviewing Ben Stiller and we're censoring the r-word from her official transcript as well as the use of a deity's name in vain:

GROSS: And he never goes out of character. So here you are, you know, walking through the jungle with him, and you're both out of character here. You're not but - so you're just talking as yourself, but he's still, you know, quote, talking black because he never gets out of character. And what you're talking about is the "Simple Jack" role, and so this ended up being a very controversial scene because of the use of the word r**arded. So I just want to warn our listeners, for anybody who finds that word, like, really, you know, insulting, that this is a comedy. This is a parody. You know it's an insulting word, and you're using it you, the writer-director of this movie, are using it knowing that. So here's the scene.

(Soundbite of film, "Tropic Thunder")

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg Speedman) There were times when I was doing Jack that I actually felt r**arded, like really r**arded. I mean, I brushed my teeth r**arded. I rode a bus r**arded.

Mr. ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. (Actor): (As Kirk Lazarus) Damn.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) In a weird way, I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that it was okay to be stupid or dumb.

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) To be a moron.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) Yeah.

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) To be moronical.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) Exactly, to be a moron.

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) An imbecile.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) Yeah.

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) About the dumbest mother(BEEP) that ever lived.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) When I was playing the character.

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) When you was the character.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) Yeah, I mean, as Jack, definitely.

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) Yeah, Jack, stupid-ass Jack, trying to come back from that.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) In a weird way, it was almost like I had to sort of fool my mind into believing that it wasn't r**arded. And by the end of the whole thing, I was like, wait a minute, you know, I flushed so much out, how am I going to jump-start it up again? It's just like...

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) Yeah, yeah.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) Right?

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) You was fartin' in bathtubs and laughing your ass off.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) Yeah.

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) Simple Jack thought he was smart or rather didn't think he was r**arded. So you can't afford to play r**arded being a smart actor, playing a guy who ain't smart but thinks he is, that's tricky.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) Tricky.

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) Its that working the mercury. It's high science, man, it's art form. You an artist.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) It's what we do, right?

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) Yeah, it's awful going there, especially knowing the Academy (unintelligible) (BEEP).

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) Wait, about what?

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) Are you serious? You dont know? Everybody knows you never go full r**ard.

Mr. STILLER: (As Tugg) What do you mean?

Mr. DOWNEY: (As Kirk) Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man looked retarded, act retarded, not retarded, count toothpicks, cheat at cards. Autistic, not retarded. Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump. Slow, yes. R**arded? Maybe. Braces on his legs, but he charmed the pants off Nixon, and he won a ping-pong competition. That ain't r**arded, and he was a G** damn war heo. You know any r**arded war heroes? You went full r**ard, man. Never go full r**ard. You don't buy that? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, "I Am Sam." Remember? Went full r**ard, went home empty-handed.

GROSS: So that's my guest, Ben Stiller, with Robert Downey, Jr., in a scene from "Tropic Thunder," which Ben Stiller directed, co-wrote and starred in. So what kind of blowback did you get from that scene?

As Ann noted when she called out that broadcast, there was no need for the clip, it never resulted in a conversation of any merit and Terry's 'warning' came too late and was insulting. It also wasn't in full. Terry felt some people might not find it funny. Some people? She neglected to inform her audience that disability groups had protested strongly about the film's use of the term.

And that's the thing, isn't it? On Fresh Air, Terry uses whatever term she wants. F**got and r**ard. And people who don't fall into those categories are allowed to discuss and interpret the terms and mock people with the terms. But anyone objecting is never heard. In 2010, it shouldn't be surprising that many people find the term f**got or r**ard offensive.

Pattern? Why it's such a pattern and such a long-standing pattern that, yes, even Alicia Shepard has had to weigh in. Three NPR friends who disagreed with Alicia steered us to an NPR page two weeks ago, a column by Alicia Shepard from April 2009 entitled "Using the 'N' Word" about Terry Gross, yes, using the n-word. In the column, we are informed that offensive words, when used, come with warnings. Might we point out that it's probably a good thing to warn a listener BEFORE you use the term? Terry was tossing around the r-word before she gave a heads up.

Of the n-word, Ellen Weiss is quoted in the column stating, "If we feel it is being used in a highly derogatory or offensive way, we may beep it." And Alica herself writes, "It fit within the context of their conversation and I don't feel it needed to be bleeped out."

So should the f-word have been bleeped out or the r-word?

And what of "G** damn"?

In fact, what of that entire clip from that bad movie?

How was that needed?

It didn't lead to a discussion about the protest. It didn't lead to anything of value. It certainly didn't question the use since Terry made it clear -- via laughter -- how amusing she found the clip. Are these the public airwaves or are they Terry Gross' air waves? Is she on to serve the public or just to amuse herself?

Time and again, the only viewpoint is Terry's. Laura Conaway notes that she originally thought Terry got kicked off MPR for a recent program on right wingers. Uh, no, Laura. After the month of December last year, when Terry managed to trash Republicans in nearly every interview she did, her biases are not only well known, they're well established.

And NPR listeners who want a referee know that they don't have one in Alicia Shepard who doesn't even bother (this is from 13 readers for Third who contacted Shepard repeatedly) to reply to them. An auto-generated e-mail thanks them for writing but their issue is never addressed in e-mail or in Alicia's writing. Some might say, "I write Third all the time and never get a reply!" Third is an online magazine. We are not, as Jim has repeatedly noted, "in the business of e-mails." By contrast, Alicia Shepard's job is to be the referee for NPR listeners and programs broadcast on NPR.

Terry has wasted the past 12 months asking a King of Queens' actor to describe a lap dance he got, a prostitute to detail the perverse habits of her clients and much, much more. In 1987, if you were placing a bet on who would be embarrassing herself in 2010 in yet another desperate attempt at seeming relevant by coming on smutty, most people would have put their money on Madonna, not Terry Gross.

But it is Terry Gross who works the smut factor. It is Terry Gross who repeatedly, in her old age, attempts to be shocking and apparently can't help but be one-sided. MPR dropped Terry's show due to the emerging pattern. They are the first we're aware of to drop her this year, they are not the only NPR station considering dropping her.

Stupidity is all over the story. Terry's stupidity lets her believe her ambi-sexual (pan-sexual?) qualities remain intact and her S&M style vocal delivery still titilates. Rachel Maddow's stupidity allows her to claim credit for Laura Conaway's bad reporting. Laura Conaway's stupidity allows her to 'weigh in' but 'forget' to inform readers that listeners were, in fact, objecting to use of the term f**got. NPR's stupidity?

The notion that they are serving their listeners.

In what feels like a lifetime ago, The Common Ills called out NPR's ombudsperson for refusing to do their job. That ombudsperson was Jeffrey A. Dvorkin and he had been asked by listeners to weigh in on Morning Edition using Robert Kagan to critique John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Dvorkin played fast and loose with the facts and reduced the issue to whether or not Kagan was a War Hawk. Earlier, NPR had sidelined Michele Norris from campaign interviews due to her husband (in 2004, he advised the Kerry campaign). No one at NPR thought Michele couldn't be objective but they did realize that NPR guidelines dictate that listeners should not be presented with even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Therefore, Michele was pulled from political interviews.

Do you follow that?

What Dvorkin 'forgot' to inform readers was that Kagan's wife worked for . . . Dick Cheney. Kagan critiques the Kerry campaign, finds it lacking, and Dick Cheney is on the other ticket. Yeah, it appears to be a conflict of interest. This was covered in "When NPR Fails You, Who You Gonna' Call? Not the Ombudsman" and, approximately six years later, that's still the case.

We'd argue Alicia's a nicer ombudsperson and a better informed one than Dvorkin. But, even allowing for the huge number of issues raised to her each month by listeners, we'd argue listeners still aren't being served. They probably can't be with just one ombudsperson. Equally true, Daniel Okrent did his finest ombudsperson (or public editor) work on The New York Times after he left his job (see his Public Editor #1-- and, disclosure, The Common Ills is mentioned in one sentence of that book).


A few notes.
"Dyke." We didn't censor it. We spoke with several lesbian friends who felt the term was not as charged as f**got and that it had long ago been 'reclaimed'.
Alicia Shepard seems like a very nice and informed person. We hope we got that point across in this piece. We are honestly bothered by the fact that our writing -- excepting only the Helen Thomas piece -- may have caused her some distress.
We don't read our pieces after they go up and are always surprised anyone else bothers to. For this piece, we read half of the WMC article and the first four paragraphs of the Helen Thomas piece. That's all we could stomach. And that's the most we've ever read of our writing after it was published.
R**ard. As has long been noted, one of us (C.I.) has worked on special needs issue for the bulk of her life, long before she was an adult. In the last three years, the other (Ava) has also been working on this issue. We take huge offense to that word and think there is no excuse for the use of it.
G** damn. We keep our religious beliefs and/or lack of them to ourselves. We do not talk religion. We do, however, respect the right of anyone to believe and have refrained from insulting any deity in our writing. Which is why you do not find even expressions like "Oh my G**" in our writing.
We fully respect and understand Ann's desire not to work on this long piece but a number of the topics we discuss re: Fresh Air have been discussed with Ann. For that reason, we did offer her a credit on this piece. She modestly turned it down but there's no point we made here that Ann couldn't have made on her own.
We're tired and have done all the links we intend to. At some point during the week, Ty may (or may not) edit this piece by adding links to previous pieces here at Third.

TV: Middle?

We are not Patricia Heaton fans. In fact, she's our offline nemesis and we've never hesitated to celebrate her many troubled performances. For example, see "TV: Satan tires a sitcom." That said, when Heaton got all the blame for the failure of Back To You, we did feel the need to step in (see "E-mails and talking post") and clarify that it couldn't all be pinned on her. And that's really it, about four thousand online slams and one post noting that it wasn't all her fault. And to us that was more than fair.


But then, as noted in last month's "Odds & Ends Roundtable," an ABC friend passed along The Middle.

As a person, it didn't make us like Patrica Heaton anymore.

And if we wanted to be less than honest, we could simply recommend the show on the basis of Neil Flynn's strong performance as Hank. But the reality is that Frankie makes the show and she's played by Heaton so Patricia Heaton makes the show.

In The Middle, she's playing a working mother. She and Mike have three children who live at home. Axl is the oldest and he's played by Charlie McDermott and may be the most realistically dressed male teenager on TV. He's certainly one of the most real. Eden Sher plays middle child Sue and is a comedic delight, able to wring laughs out of quirky lines, dashed hopes and physical comedy, it would appear she has no limits. The third child is under 18 and our long standing policy is not to comment -- good or bad -- on child actors.

Frankie and Mike wish they could have the perfect family. But they don't and they themselves are far from perfect. Frankie long ago realized most days it's just about getting through the day. Heaton conveys that beautifully. This is richly, textured performance from her and we're honestly surprised and we firmly and loudly applaud her for what she's done and what she's doing.

Yes, there's good writing and that can't be stressed enough. This isn't a cookie-cutter sitcom. Meaning, you don't picture the writers sitting around wondering, "Can I work in a Twilight joke here? How about Lady Gaga?" It's not doing what Square Pegs did (and was attacked for) and what almost every sitcom since Friends has done (and been praised for) which is rely on pop cultural references to get the laughs that often haven't been earned. The jokes on The Middle stem from the characters and Sue's not going to say a line that Axl would or Mike one that Frankie would. The characters, on the page, are clearly written.

That's a rare thing and a gift to any actor. But that doesn't detract from or explain the layers Heaton has given Frankie. On the awful Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray tended to escape the kids and the 'joke' was what a nag Deborah was (Heaton played Deborah) and how bad of a cook she was and how bad she was at cleaning and blah, blah, blah. The scripts were lousy, true, but we weren't impressed with Heaton's performance.

She followed that with Back To You which we explained -- in our review, months before anyone was talking about -- was a set of non-stop conflict as she and co-star attempted to steer the comedy in two different directions. It didn't gel, it didn't work. And she was awful in it.

In The Middle, Heaton's an actress. And she's like a method actress. When Frankie's beyond exhausted, Heaton appears to be in every bone of her body. This is not a walk through, this is not a stand there and recite your lines, this is a full bodied performance that you rarely find on TV. We would honestly compare what Heaton has done the first season with some of Carol Burnett's great skits from her variety show. As deep as Carol went into Joan Crawford or Scarlet O'Hara, that's how deep Heaton's gone into Frankie.

This year's tighest Emmy race is the Best Actress Comedy category and Heaton isn't nominated. If she had been nominated, she would have been as worthy of the award as anyone else nominated. Like Heaton, Courtney Cox was overlooked. That's not out of dislike or disgust with the two women, that's just because that is the most competative category. Tina Fey is the dead horse that keeps getting nominated even though she's not an actress.

It's rather strange that Tina spouts dialogue in a quirky manner, never inhabits a character and yet repeatedly is nominated (and even won once) for 'playing' Liz. But it's rather strange that the forever low rated 30 Rock remains on the air (hopefully it leaves the air when Alec Baldwin leaves the cast).

We think it's also strange that Heaton's emerged as such a strong actress. But, unlike the overly praised 30 and Tina, we applaud Heaton's emergence.

In one episode, Frankie had the worst mother's day imaginable. So, with Sue tagging along, she headed for her own mother's where Frankie proceeded to act like a spoiled brat and treat her mother as poorly as her children had treated her. It was a difficult series of scenes and the first thing Heaton obviously did was toss aside any fears of how Frankie might be judged by the audience. Having decided not to cheat the scenes by acting cute, she was still left with the text (the only thing Tina Fey can handle) and the subtext (where real actresses excel). And if that doesn't seem challenging enough, might we add that she had to hold her own with the actress playing her mother? Four-time Academy Award nominee for Best Actress Marsha Mason. As well as with Sher who, again, is a comic wonder. There was so much going in the scenes at Frankie's mother's house and all three women were hitting on all the levels and creating something really amazing.

And that's a credit to Heaton who had to be the one holding the whole thing together. Mason could -- and did -- take some strong and powerful turns in the material because she played a new character the audience didn't know. Sher could do anything because that's Sue. But Heaton had to be Frankie, forever weighted to the ground, and still make it fresh and still make it wonderful. And she did it. She played lazy and loving and frustrating and impossible and childish and mature and did it fluidly and was 100% believable.

The only disappointment we had with The Middle was when we watched the episode Betty White guest-starred on and, then, the only problem was that it was the final episode of the season.

As noted at the beginning, we are not Patricia Heaton fans. But we can't deny powerful acting and she offered it in every episode of The Middle this year. We watched the pilot and thought, "Oh, she got lucky." Then we watched another episode and then another. By episode six, her performance was undeniable and we were just watching for pleasure (something we rarely have the time to do -- but that's how good the show is). Whether it was a showy moment like selling a car to a man who'd just wasted all of her time or a quieter one like escaping for 15 minutes at work into the bathroom, she nailed it all and did so over and over. We're sorry we weren't aware of her strong performance before the Emmy nominations went in. We're sorry most people weren't aware of her strong performance the Emmy nominations went in.

Patricia, we'll never be friends and grudges will forever exist on both sides. However, there's no denying that you gave one of the strongest performances in the fall 2009 to spring 2010 TV season. We applaud you for it and look forward to the start of next season's The Middle. Congratulations on all you've achieved with this role, you're a joy to watch in it.

Ty's Corner

We just finished the roundtable and an issue raised by a reader was the over reliance on Ava and C.I. of late to complete an edition. I agree with that and figured I could do a corner on Iraq.


I'm one of those mythical MoveOn 'members.' Meaning, I signed up in 2004 to vote in some poll they had and, even though I've never given them any money and don't ever bother to use their action alerts and have had nothing to do with them since 2004, they continue to e-mail me and they continue to count me as a member.

When I was vaguely interested in MoveOn, it was when they at least pretended to care about the Iraq War. Six years later and they don't even bother. They e-mailed twice last week. Once to tell me "How To Steal An Election." I didn't open that one because I figured they were just bragging about how they helped Barack steal the 2008 Democratic Party primary election. The other was entitled "Sign this pledge" which I only opened because I thought it said, "Sing this pledge" and was interested in what song they wanted sung. It advised me that I needed to sign a petition ("Fight Washington Corruption") because they didn't have enough signatures in my House members' district. 'My' House member's district. That's from my grandmother's home. I was raised by my grandparents (great people, I owe them big). I have lived at C.I.'s since 2006 and I now vote out here. Anyway, the e-mail was signed by "Ilyse, Amy, Lenore, Milan, and the rest of the team." You know things are bad when you don't even recognize the 'faces' of a group.

And you know things are bad when reports about Jawad Bolani (Interior Minister of Iraq) going around Nouri al-Maliki (sitting prime minister) to meet up with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard fly but, somehow, we don't see any reporting on that from any outlets.

One of the most depressing things in my inbox may be "Seeds of Peace." Excuse me, "Highlights: Seeds of Peace." And why is that depressing? Because it comes not from an anti-war or peace organization but from the US State Department.

In fact, the only one e-mailing last week about Iraq was Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait and I'll include all of the links from her e-mail:

  • Crimes Are Crimes statement Spreads
  • March 20 White House Arrest Trial Ends with 3 Convictions, 3 Acquittals
  • Anti-War Conferences

It's so strange for someone like me who grew up with the Iraq War taking place and remembers when the Iraq War actually meant something and the left was actually opposed to it and chanted slogans about "Bring the troops home now!" and wanted the wars ended not a year from now or two years from now but right away.

Of course, most of them never meant it. They just wanted to get Bush out of office and they saw the illegal war as an easy thing to rally around. Those are the ones who voted in another War Party candidate but work really hard to pretend that guy with the light tan isn't a War Hawk.

I work these days, no longer in college, so I'm not on campus and I don't go on the road with Ava, C.I., Kat and Wally. But I do ask the four of them for details and I do check with Dona (who schedules them). I hear about how college students are interested in Iraq and, from Dona, that the demand's actually higher now for them to speak than at any time in the last four years. I asked Kat about it this morning and she said she felt like a lot of the Democrats who used to come were no longer there. Not all, but a lot. In their place, you had Greens, Republicans and people who would have been Democrats or just left the Democratic Party over the War Hawk Barack.

Kat asked me what I'd talk about if I was on the road with them?

It's a good question and my answer was I'd talk about after the illegal war. Not because I think the Iraq War has ended or is about to but because I think we need to be talking about how we make right the damage the US has done? I believe we do that financially.

I do not believe we do that by keeping bases in the country or soldiers on the ground there.

But I am starting to realize that there will be no reparations made to Iraq. Not under a Republican, not under a Democrat. Because it's one War Party and they wanted this war and they continued it. Most of all, these people, these apathetic people who walked away from the war? They appear to think it's over. And yet they've done nothing to call for reparations for Iraq or to insist that we offer financial aid or any other humanitarian thing.

But that's the way it goes when you reduce a war to a campaign promise -- you sort of expect it to be broken and forgotten.

Kids Korner

There's nothing young children and tweens love better than hot, hot, hottie Carl Davidson. And we're happy to provide the first (as far as we know) paper dolls of Carl.


Dress Carl up in all his finery. Costumes based on real life outfits of Carl's with actual input from Carl!!!!


Sometimes Carl has a fancy event to go to. When that happens, he pulls out the bowling shirt and the lime green pants! But sometimes he wants to look hip and hang with the kids who worship him so much and on those days and nights he grabs a pair of shorts and his favorite belly shirt.

And then there are those nights when a Carl has to do what a Carl has to do. Put on your red dress, mama, and your wig-hat on your head . . . .


All proceeds go in Carl's pocket to continue his reign as America's Top Fashionista.


Jim: Roundtable time and we've got so much to cover including our devoted fan Carl Davidson. Our e-mail address is Participating 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. And, again, a rare roundtable where we're all face to face. Betty's kids did the illustration.


Jim (Con't): First up, comments. We go over this over and over. Repeatedly. But we need to do it again because Carl Davidson just emerged from an adult literacy class and is confused that this "blog" doesn't have comments. Carl, it's an online magazine. As for comments, I'm tossing to Betty.

Betty: I don't have comments at my site. And I do a blog. When I started, it was a comedic novel from the point of view of a woman Thomas Friedman kidnapped and drugged. That ended in 2008, I kept the name and turned it into a blog. But I would never have comments at my site. That's because I'm Black and, like many who were online during the first part of the 2000s, I remember what happenes. Now The Common Ills had comments when it started. A number of people -- I wasn't the only one -- had e-mailed C.I. to say they didn't like that. Keesha was another one who had complained. And we had explained what had happened to us -- and none of us knew each other then. But it's not uncommon if you're Black to be at a left site and feel welcomed and then you make a comment that, I don't know, maybe Al Gore doesn't piss rainbows and just produces urine like everyone else and suddenly you'd be attacked. It would be coded at first but it would be racism and if you continued to stand up for yourself or your point of view, the racism would come out full blown. That's true of every one of the big sites in that time period. And that's why Black bloggers still have to struggle. A White male blogger -- presumably straight -- can say what ever we do and it's okay but if we say it, it's not.

Marica: And a White blogger -- say Amanda you know who -- can rip off an African-American blogger and when called to the carpet on it insist, 'Yes I read her but I didn't feel I had to credit her because even though this is her topic she's covered for years, I'm writing about it and I'm White. And I'm a feminist because I worked for the John Edwards campaign!'

Ann: Cedric's going to s**t his shorts right now but I need to add something here and, Cedric, just don't say a word okay? David Swanson thought it was okay to take my husband's words and post them at his site without asking. David Swanson thought it was okay to appropriate Cedric's work. It didn't happen with anyone else, now did it? But if it's a Black person a lot of White's seem to feel they're entitled to steal. Back to Betty's point about the way we are treated online, she's right. I remember those days very well. There's not a big site you can name where the blogger running it did not allow racism in the comments to go unchecked and did not allow Black people to regularly be trashed. They can rewrite history anyway they want but Black people will not be silent.

Betty: And that's true. They've got Barack now and the Blogger Boyz love him and they try to pretend like they love Black people. Really? The same ones who when we brought up racism would snarl we were playing "identity politics"? But the blogosphere was not friendly to Black people. I don't honestly think it's any better today. I think a lot of White men and women on the left feel they have to make a token effort because they see Barack as Black so that's toned it down some but if it really wasn't a racist scene, people would be linked to beyond the Democratic-cheerleaders of Jack & Jill, okay? Check the blogrolls and notice how few bloggers of color get linkage. That's not an accident. And the hostility was why we didn't want comments at TCI. C.I. wrote those of us e-mailing on that topic to say she'd watch for it. She said that if it happened, the comments would be shut down immediately and for good. Keesha left a comment on one post, she and several others, but two centrist Democrats, praising Martin Frost among others, zoomed in on her -- probably because her name made her race more obvious -- and began using coded racism and upped it to full on racism. They also took it to every other TCI post that Keesha commented on and began trashing her there with racist remarks as well. That's when C.I. closed the comments section and they have never been opened again.

Ty: And when we started Third -- Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself -- we were aware of what happened at TCI. I was glad it happened because Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava and I had long talked about starting up a website. And I would share with Jim and Jess what I saw happening online to African-Americans. And they would listen and they would nod but I really got that you probably had to be African-American yourself to notice it. So when it happened in the comments at TCI, I was able to say, "See, I'm not just being sensitive, this is what happens." So there was no way we were going to have comments here. First off, no one has the time to police them. Second off, we don't want that crap. Third of all, we've always been an online magazine that publishes once a week.

Jess: And our e-mail is clearly included in at least one article a week and it is on our profile. It's not hard to e-mail -- as many do each week. When Ty was telling Jim and I about what had happened to him and some of his friends in high school on blogs, we were shocked. We're not comment people ourselves, so we hadn't seen it. And Ty explained it to us but even with that, we were still shocked when it happened at TCI. And there was a period where we were kind of pissed at C.I. because we'd seen the comments and more like them were going up and we were thinking, "Well why isn't she doing something about this?" When you don't do your own site, you may not realize that you're not checking out your own site every minute of the day.

Jim: And that, Carl Davidson, is why we don't include comments. Dona read over Carl's fan mail. Dona was there anything worth quoting?

Dona: Not a damn thing.

Jim: Thanks. Carl e-mailed twice. The first time to attack us for not having a comment option so that he could spread some more propaganda by leaving comments on our article "Barry's Geriatric 'Progs'." He opens by calling our article "crap" and then calling us "cowards." And when I reply to him, Old Man Carl suddenly is grasping for the pearls. He needs the vapors, our poor fraglie, Southern Miss. As if he'd written a calm e-mail? Carl, we don't like you. But we do like laughing at you and this edition we've got another piece about you. Elaine and C.I. know Carl from back in the day. Do either of you want to add anything?

Elaine: I'll add that a generational sell-out took place for many of my generation but few sold out so hard and for so little the way that Carl did. When you look at wasted potential, you're looking at Carl Davidson.

Jim: Thanks. We're done with Carl now. Ty?

Ty: Kathy writes, "Betty and Kat are my two favorites, though I love all of you. I enjoy Betty and Kat's sites the most because they write about their families and friends and that really hits home with me. But I'm writing about WBAI. There's an announcement up that WBAI has stopped podcasting and that all Pacifica stations will shortly. I remember Kat and Betty both writing repeatedly about how C.I. said they were going to have to stop podcasting. This has been something they've blogged about for about two years now. So I was hoping someone could explain to me what happened?"

Kat: Well, Kathy, on behalf of Betty and me, thank you. Betty does put a great deal of work into her site. Me, I'm just booting up at whatever hotel we happen to be in on the road and trying to figure out what's the quickest thing I can write on. Which is why you'll often encounter my friends, my nephews, my nieces and my grandmother at my site. The podcasting? It's a legal issue. KPFA stopped keeping their archives online. They do it for a few weeks now. Originally -- and they raised money on this, gave pledge drive pitches on this -- they were building the largest online archives for public radio. But the idea that they'd have to pay royalties for using music was just too scary for them. So they had to only archive temporarily, according to them. That's really not true and never was true. KPFA isn't 'live.' They have a delay now due to FCC fines on TV -- which a court case may have stopped. But KPFA has a delay and if the f-word gets said, they can hit a button and the word's not broadcast on the airwaves. They could do the same with the music, to eliminate it. Think about The Randi Rhodes Show if you listened to it back when Air America Radio was on. If you were streaming online, a lot of the time you couldn't get Randi on AAR. So you'd go to the Florida station that broadcast her. And listening there, you'd encounter lengthy commercial breaks without commercials. You'd hear some but you'd get a lot of silence. They were able to -- for reasons I don't know -- silence portions during the broadcast and KPFA could have done the same for music in the archives. But they didn't want to, they wanted to play the victim yet again. So they had to cut down on listeners -- something at odds with radio programming -- and they stated they couldn't archive permanently anymore because of the royalty issue. But this whole time, they've been podcasting and they've knowingly refused to count the podcasts when figuring out listeners and the royalty rate they owed. If someone wanted to, they could go back over the figures and stick KPFA with a bill. They underpaid. And C.I. has warned about this aspect forever and a day. I saw her explain to two Pacifica board members over 16 months ago. I'm not surprised it happened, I'm just surprised it took so long.

Ty: Next e-mail is for Jim and Isaiah. Barry e-mails to note this from C.I.'s "Feds still chasing after WikiLeaks:"

Let's deal with community issues arising. Isaiah plans to do a comic tomorrow. The only thing that might change that is Third's writing session going crazy. On that, I want to scream. A friend's asked that we address -- Ava and I -- an attack on Lindsay Lohan and I'm fine with that. Lindsay's under attack. And she's being attacked by Queen Bitchy which necessitates that we also stop being nice to Joan Rivers. A number of people will laugh at that assertion but Ava and I caught Joan's little anti-Muslim tirade and chose to ignore it because our plates were full and Joan's so pathetic as it is. Now, we'll instead explore it at Third (with link for you to listen yourselves). It's awful, it's disgusting and it's amazing that it took place -- IN PUBLIC -- at the same time the assault on Helen Thomas did and it didn't raise an eyebrow. So that's two things we've been asked for by friends and that's fine. Now a friend at CNN is asking that we take on idiot Rachel Maddow, so we'll be doing that as well. Poor Rachel, caught in yet another lie. She is a world class liar. And she must want to be known as such because she does it repeatedly and she does it badly. Somewhere in all of that, we'll attempt to tackle NPR and there's also a TV piece to write. That's what Ava and I will be working on. It'll take forever. I don't know what everyone else is going ot be working on, I don't know how long those other pieces will take. I say that because if this writing edition goes on too long, Isaiah may not do a comic and I've outlined here what Ava and I are working on so take it up with Jim if there's no comic.

Ty (Con't): Barry wants to know why it's referred to Jim and what the status is on the comic?

Isaiah: Jim's pointing to me so let me state I haven't drawn anything yet and it's 8:00 a.m. PST right now. Will I have a comic tonight? I have two ideas for one. If we can finish the writing edition soon enough, I will do a comic. If not, I may not. I'm already tired and would love to be in bed right now.

Jim: C.I. made a point of referring the issue to me because she got tired of e-mails two Sundays ago. She had noted to us that if Isaiah was going to do a comic, he needed to be let go. But I said we needed him -- and we did -- to complete the edition. So I was the reason there was no comic and that's what C.I. was stating.

Isaiah: And this edition, I've worked on a few articles and I've also done some drawings. I did a Lynne Stewart with Betty's kids adding some color for what we hope to use as an editorial, I did a Lindsay Loham for another piece and Betty's kids are going to work with Kat on that, adding a few touches, I did the Carl Davidson paper doll drawings.

Jim: And in terms of what C.I. promised from Ava and herself, they've done everything but the Loham article so far. They've done their TV piece, they've done the Rachel Maddow piece which is an epic and which will probably run in the spot that their TV piece usually does and they've documented Joan Rivers' ugly speech about Arab-Americans.

Dona: Isaiah just mentioned Lynne Stewart and Allison e-mailed wondering how Ruth ended up being the community's Lynne Stewart chronicler?

Ruth: Well I think that's due to the fact that Lynne's husband Ralph Poynter usually appears each Tuesday on Taking Aim on WBAI. I usually note that show at my site. With the exception of Stan and Ann, I think every site has covered her. Stan and Ann have reposted the Iraq snapshot and C.I.'s noted Lynne in that, so she's been covered in that way but I mean that everyone has written about her themselves except Stan and Ann. That's not an insult to them or a why-don't-they? I have been doing my site since 2005 and Lynne was much more in the news then. For example, Wally and Cedric have covered her in non-joint posts before their sites went into joint-posts. Since Stan and Ann started their sites, the only new news has been the re-sentencing. I like to write about Lynne -- I would like it better if I had some good news to write about Lynee -- and due to Taking Aim, I have pretty much been the one covering it this year.

Mike: Lynne's the planned topic for the editorial so no one really knows what to say because we're all trying to save it for the editorial. But just to give a very brief explanation for anyone late to the party on this topic, Lynne Stewart is a legendary Civil Rights attorney. She took on a case and has been punished for issuing a press release to Reuters news agency on behalf of her client. This happened in 2000, when Bill Clinton was president and Janet Reno, the Attorney General, looked into the matter and decided it wasn't anything to prosecute on. Then came the Bush administration and they decided to prosecute Lynne for breaking an agreement -- not a law -- and they tied her into 9-11 and scared up a vote of guilty. She's a political prisoner. She's an attorney. She's a grandma. She's not a crook.

Trina: I would agree with Mike -- not just because he's my son. But I'd add something else to Ruth's answer. Ruth has covered Lynne and I enjoy reading that coverage. But I had written about Lynne some time ago, early in my blog, and I really didn't think there was much more to add. I thought Ruth was covering it, doing a great job, and covering it all. I wrote "Silences on Lynne Stewart" only because I was here at C.I.'s for the vacation and encountered some friends of C.I.'s at one of the parties last week, friends who are National Lawyers Guild members and they were extremely pissed that the NLG was not advocating on behalf of Lynne or even raising awareness about the sentencing hearing. They also called out Marjoie Cohn for her silence. They had a whole list of people. So that gave me a new way to write about the topic. Ruth does a great job and I praise her for her work but, for me and maybe others, we feel Ruth's got it covered and there's nothing we can really add.

Jim: And, it's a miracle, Dallas wants to speak. This is the first time Dallas has ever spoken during a roundtable without prompting from C.I. first.

Dona: So shut up and let him speak.

Dallas: Yeah, first, Stan, like the blue. Wasn't aware you'd changed your site's template, it looks good. But to correct something that was said, Stan has written about Lynne at his site. In fact, he's written about her a few times including about meeting her in 2009.

Ruth: I am sorry. I really am.

Stan: Don't be. When you brought that up, I thought for a moment and then said, "Oh, I must have just mentioned that here." The meeting. That's all I remembered writing about.

Jim: Anything else, Dallas? Nope. Okay, that was Dallas. We offer to include him in the Third gang. He's a sounding board on everything, he's the one hunting down links in all the pieces except the ones Ava and C.I. write -- they do their own links unless they state otherwise.

Dona: Robert e-mailed that he is a huge fan of Ava and C.I.'s -- and he is, he's always writing about their articles -- but he feels we've been leaning on them too much lately expecting them to write multiple articles each edition. I've actually commented on this in roundtables and in Jim's "note to our readers." I agree completely. This issue, they'll have done at least four pieces. There's no excuse for that. That's not blaming them, that is blaming the rest of us. For example, we are supposed to have a big PTSD piece. We went to the hearing in DC last week. And planned for the article to be the big piece. We can't get it together enough to come up with a strong opening for the piece. We're blowing it. I don't make excuses for us. I've noted that Ava and C.I. have repeatedly saved the editions in the last two months and I've noted that we've over-relied upon them. When they came into the pitch session Saturday night, I hadn't read the entry at The Common Ills that was quoted in an e-mail a little while ago. In fact, when it was read in this roundtable was the first time I'd heard it. But that backs up what Ava and C.I. said when, during the pitch session, they said, "We will write . . ." and outlined what they were going to do. At that time, I said, "That's a lot and I really don't want to push that much on you." Their response was that each of those pieces -- except the TV piece -- was requested by friends and they'd promised to write them to ensure that they were written. That means, if they were writing it with all of us, it might not get written. Why? Because we'd lose focus or waste time or whatever. Ava and C.I. have already written three pieces and when they go to the fourth, they'll probably have written half the edition. Are we leaning on them too much? Hell yes.

Jim: And I don't disagree with Dona's opinion --

Dona: Oh, of course you do!

Jim: -- but Ava and C.I. have always been the calling card for this site. So let's not pretend that if they write four articles in one edition we're leaning on them but if they only do one then we're not leaning on them. You go through my "note to our readers" and you'll see time and again I'm writing that Ava and C.I. save the edition with their article. I understand Dona's point about wasted time and even agree with her on that. And I'm honestly worried about how we finish this edition because we have no Iraq feature and are we going to do that? Or are we going to pull something together? I have no idea.

Wally: I'm all for Lynne as the editorial but as long as we're going nuts and bolts on writing in this roundtable, I want to point out that this will be the fifth or sixth week in a row that we didn't run with C.I.'s editorial topic. I think we all need to agree that she needs to take it to The Common Ills and write about it there before someone else notices and makes that an editorial or article. For five or six weeks now, we've argued that it is a great topic and we've never done it.

Cedric: I -- Do I only talk when Wally does? I realized I was about to sound off and that thought just entered my head. But Wally and I talk about this stuff all the time. We write joint-posts together so we're always on the phone and we're always talking about everything. And I know what he's saying and I agree with him because we have talked about it. How did that happen? How did C.I. come up with a great editorial topic and we didn't write it. We didn't it write it once. For five or six weeks we've had one excuse after another not to write it. And this edition we worked on some things that became questionable early on and were obviously not working much later.

Jim: Cedric's specifically referring to a piece I thought we could do that came to me in a dream and would have been a fiction piece. It didn't work out. It absorbed a lot of time. My apologies; however, we are going to include fiction more often and not just over the summer. Each year we do a summer fiction edition. We had a lot of readers responding to that this year and we're going to try to do fiction regularly throughout the year. And Cedric and Wally are correct that C.I. came to us with an editorial on Iraq or Iraq-related which basically writes itself and we've never managed to pull it together enough to do it. And Dona just handed me a note saying it was time to wrap up. She points out Elaine and Stan barely spoke but did speak. Ava and C.I. are the only ones who did not and they stated ahead of time that they might not. They take the notes during roundtable pieces. And this is a rush transcript that you're reading.

Joan Rivers spews more hatred


It may have started simply enough. Comic Joan Rivers was being interviewed and asked about the Miss USA pageant. Surely fertile grounds for Rivers well known bitchy vein of comedy that she's pioneered for years. But it quickly veered off the road giving an NYC and national audience a look at the hatred that's never far from the surface when it comes to Rivers.

Arts Magazine: You know, that she was Arab-American and people making a fuss about that.

Joan Rivers: Uh, if she was -- Uh -uh -- I don't know. I'm -- I'm a New Yorker and I get very nervous when people tell me -- uh, this is a terrible thing to say -- I get very nervous when -- Arab-Americans, fine. Just show me where it says, "I want to live in peace." That's all I want. I want you to have a good time. You believe what you want, I believe what I want. But I don't want to hear that you're out to get me. And that does scare me. I don't think -- I don't think she's a Muslim! Because her mother was in a dress that was so cut down, I could tell you what color her underwear was. The mother was having a good time. She was having a good time. So there wasn't this feeling of -- ladies didn't come in burqas to congratulate her. Then you would have gotten very nervous.

If you're appalled by the above, join the club. It's stereotyping, it's hateful and it's racism. In short, it's Joan Rivers. Believe it or not, the interview with Joan River was intro-ed on WBAI's Arts Magazine with, "And now, on a lighter note, Joan Rivers." If you missed the show, you currently have 56 days to catch the Tuesday, June 15th broadcast of Arts Magazine on WBAI by visiting the WBAI archives. And for those who can't stream, no, Rivers wasn't joking.
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