Sunday, October 24, 2010

Truest statement of the week

The threat being made by the Pentagon, as we read over the last few days, of warning newsmen to stand away from this material, to refuse to receive it and, if they do receive it, to return it seems absurd on its face. We're not dealing with the 7,000 pieces of paper, top secret pieces of paper, that comprised the Pentagon Papers. The Pentagon did make a demand to the New York Times that they return that pile of paper to the -- to the Pentagon. The Times refused until -- in fact, never did return it. And refused to stop the presses until a court order came down. But with cyber material, it's all over the world right now and in several papers right now, the demand seems absurd. I understand the reason for those words because they echo the words first used against me, the legal words of 18 USC 793, paragraphs D and E which for the first time used the so-called espionage act as if it were a kind of official secrets act that you have in Britain which simply criminalizes the release of any classified material to any unauthorized person. We don't have such a law. And the irony now is that President Obama in making these clear threats of applying this law to anybody who deals with this information including not only the journalists but the words apply to the people who read it and don't return it to the proper authorities actually. President Obama's threats are not entirely without credibility here because he has started as many prosecutions for leaks as all previous presidents put together. It's a small number. It's three. The last one is Bradley Manning. [C.I. note: The other two are Shamai Kedem Leibowitz of the FBI and Thomas Drake of the NSA.] That's small because we don't have an official secrets act. And prior to Bush and Obama, presidents took it for granted that any application of the espionage act was likely to be overthrown as unconstitutional in our First Amendment by the Supreme Court but we're now facing a different Supreme Court. And, after 9-11, Obama is making a new experiment on this issue which will really change the relationship of the press to sources very radically. As it is, any source, with or without this change in the law, who gave this kind of material -- 400,000 pages of documents, 800,000 pages of documents -- to WikiLeaks would have to know that they were facing a risk of being where Bradley Manning is right now, in prison, accused of these things. And we don't know, I don't know, who the source is. If the president should prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is Bradley Manning, we can give him his unreserved admiration from us and thanks for what he did. But whomever did it, in fact, acted very appropriately in the course of deadly, stalemated war and which has one characteristic, by the way, in Iraq which isn't going to come out clearly in these 400,000 pages or in the discussion. And that is that the origins of war were clearly in the form of lying to the publics of Britain and America in order to carry on a clearly illegal crime against the peace, a war of aggression. So all of these civilian casualties are killed in a war of aggression. We won't have to say also the non-civilian casualties reported here are in the role of fighting against foreign occupiers, invaders, by the standards of the world, the question is raised very much whether their death by the invader is not also to be counted among the murders?

-- Daniel Ellsberg, at the WikiLeaks London press conference yesterday. Click link to stream it in full at CSpan and C.I. transcribed it for this entry.

Truest statement of the week II

"I have a message for Valerie Jarrett and all those politicians in the White House: You've lost my trust. You have lost my trust and I am not gonna vote for Barack Obama after what he did yesterday."

-- Lt Dan Choi, on CNN Thursday.

A note to our readers

Hey --

This is very early for us!

Thank you to all who worked on this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

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.

And what did we come up with?

This is Daniel Ellsberg.
And that is Lt Col Dan Choi. Originally this was going to be a political edition in terms of campaigns. Then it was going to be an edition about Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Then it becamse a mixture of a number of things.

Of course the editorial had to be on WikiLeaks. It is the story right now in the news cycle.

And Ava and C.I. covered it here by looking at the way the network news reported it. They do two pieces this edition and swear they hate this one the most. (They hate everything they write.)

We do discuss Don't Ask, Don't Tell here. I'm glad for that because we had an article and had to scrap it. Ty's going to try to do a Ty's Corner on the topic next Sunday. But we're too tired to keep working on that group article that just won't work.
This is the one Ava and C.I. "dislike less" of their two pieces. We love both articles and are glad to have both. We'll also note that Ava and C.I. worked WikiLeaks into this one as well. So that's three pieces addressing WikiLeaks this week.

Dallas came up with this idea. The first plan last week was for this to be a campaign edition. And Dallas had these wacky pieces sent to him by the Texas Democratic Party committee.

This is a comedy feature. We hope you enjoy it.

La Pietra is running for office. Find out what he stands for.

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

We thank everyone. And that includes you for reading. Our e-mail address is


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

Editorial: WikiLeaks' document release


Above is the front of The New York Times on Saturday. Word to the wise, you don't want to make the cover of the Saturday paper. It's the least read edition.

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?

The documents (the equivalent of 800 telephone books, according to NBC Nightly News) contain many revelations including that the military knew things were worse than was being admitted. Instead of admitting it, the Pentagon blamed reporters, as was pointed out Saturday on NBC Nightly News.

Richard Engel: The problem is they don't reflect what we were being told by the military at the time. Particularly before the surge, the military was saying that the situation on the ground was better than was being reported, that it was reporters who were exaggerating the problem. These documents show that the military knew full well how bad the situation was and was telling itself and reporting it internally that there was a really serious situation in Iraq.

The Pentagon lied. At the start of the war, this wasn't a controversial statement to make. But since Rolling Stone walked out on those 2003 'news' briefings, has the press really raised the issue?

No. They've ignored it and repeatedly ignored it.

The documents note the torture and murder of Iraqi detainees that were tortured by Iraqi forces.

The US government knew this -- under George W. Bush and under Barack Obama -- they knew this. There was a video of an execution in December 2009 and there was no follow up after the report was filed. Explain that.

And explain to us how Iraq continues to receive funds? Didn't the 1997 Leahy Amendment (recently back in the news due to abuses in Pakistan)forbid funds going to any forces who were even suspected of torture?

The Nobel Peace Prize winning president didn't stop torture, didn't even stop funding torture. It's not good news for the Cult of St. Barack.

Nor is Angus Stickler's "Obama administration handed over detainees despite reports of torture" (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism) which notes War Crimes:

President Barack Obama's government handed over thousands of detainees to the Iraqi authorities, despite knowing there were hundreds of reports of alleged torture in Iraqi government facilities.
Washington was warned by the United Nations and many human rights organisations that torture was widespread in Iraqi detention centres. But the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal the US's own troops informed their commanders of more than 1,300 claims of torture by Iraqi Security forces between 2005 and 2009.
[. . .]
Human rights organisations have expressed outrage at the revelations. Professor Novak, the UN Rapporteur on Torture told the Bureau: "If the United States forces handed over detainees to Iraqi jurisdiction, despite the fact that they were at serious risk of being subjected to torture, that is a violation of Article 3C of the Convention Against Torture of which the US is a signatory."

Human rights groups? Oh, yeah, the thing the US media keeps forgetting to include. Amnesty International issued the following Friday:

Amnesty International today called on the USA to investigate how much US officials knew about the torture and other ill-treatment of detainees held by Iraqi security forces after new evidence emerged in files released by the Wikileaks organization on Friday.

“We have not yet had an opportunity to study the leaked files in detail but they add to our concern that the US authorities committed a serious breach of international law when they summarily handed over thousands of detainees to Iraqi security forces who, they knew, were continuing to torture and abuse detainees on a truly shocking scale,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The new disclosures appear to closely match the findings of New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful Detentions and Torture in Iraq, a report published by Amnesty International in September 2010 detailing the widespread torture and other ill-treatment of detainees by Iraqi forces, committed with impunity. Thousands of Iraqis who had been detained by US forces were transferred from US to Iraqi custody between early 2009 and July 2010 under an agreement between the USA and Iraq that contains no provisions for ensuring protection of the detainees’ human rights.

“These documents apparently provide further evidence that the US authorities have been aware of this systematic abuse for years, yet they went ahead and handed over thousands of Iraqis they had detained to the Iraqi security forces,” said Malcolm Smart.

The USA is a party to the UN Convention against Torture, the main international treaty prohibiting torture, which requires all states to prohibit torture and to refrain from transferring detainees to the authorities of another state at whose hands they face torture.

Amnesty International continues to campaign for full accountability in the cases of all those detainees tortured and ill-treated by USA military personnel in Iraq , such as those in Abu Ghraib prison.

The US authorities, like all governments, have an obligation under international law not only to ensure that their own forces do not use torture, but also that people who were detained and are being held by US forces are not handed over to other authorities who are likely to torture them.

“The USA failed to respect this obligation in Iraq, despite the great volume of evidence, available from many different quarters, showing that the Iraqi security forces use torture widely and are allowed to do so with impunity.” said Malcolm Smart

“The information said to be in these documents also underscores the urgent need for the Iraqi government to take concrete measures to end torture, ensure the safety of all detainees, and root out and bring to justice those responsible for torture and other serious human rights abuses, however senior their position.”

When you hear or read the stories, you need to pay attention to what you're being offered. It is just what the Pentagon says? Is anyone else being brought in?

War Crimes took place. Where are the attorneys in the coverage? Where are the human rights activists? Where are the peace activists?

While the war was being sold, only a very narrow range of voices were allowed to be heard via the media. Why is these are the same voices getting to weigh in now?

We hope there will be more coverage. We know that, tomorrow, Friday's release will feel some time ago to many news outlets. Saturday, the Financial Times 'covered' the release in their weekend edition . . . on page two . . . under the fold on page two . . . in fifteen lousy paragraphs.

But we see that The New York Times also front paged the documents today. Hopefully, that's a sign that the story will still have traction in this week's news cycle.


TV: The WikiLeaks reports

"It is a leak that is more like a flood," Katie Couric declared Friday on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. She was referring to WikiLeaks release of nearly 400,000 documents on the Iraq War. And, if you watched all three networks Friday and Saturday, what did you learn about the flood?


If you watched ABC World News with Diane Sawyer Friday, you learned WikiLeaks was "brazen" -- not generally seen as a compliment and most often precedes the term "hussy." Raddatz notes that the documents "reveal startling detail about civilian deaths, torture of detainees at the hands of the Iraqis and deadly US helicopter assaults on insurgents trying to surrender The classified reports put the Iraqi civilian death toll far higher than the US has acknowledged before at more than 100,000 from 2004 to 2009, 15,000 more than the US has reported. Many deaths were at the hands of the Iraqis but the documents show that the US military was responsible for many more than were previously thought." She noted "prisoners being shackled, blindfolded, kicked and punched" by Iraqi forces and that "the US military would sometimes turn a blind eye."

For three minutes you got a brief overview of the documents from correspondent Martha Raddatz and then you got Diane Conversation -- where the show always falls apart.

Diane Saywer: I know there's a lot of outrage about this again tonight, Martha, but tell me anything more about prosecuting the WikiLeaks group?

Martha Raddatz: Well the head of WikiLeaks said this afternoon that -- he said the FBI has actually interviewed people and there might be espionage charges against him.

It was "brazen," Diane had already informed, now she wanted to toss out "outrage" and wonder if WikiLeaks could be prosecuted? It was the briefest coverage of any of the three commercial broadcast networks and it was the weakest.

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams gave the story 46 more seconds than ABC did. They started with Chuck Todd and then moved on to Jim Miklaszewski. Anchor Brian Williams referred to what WikiLeaks "threatened to do" and we were off and running through a charged atmosphere that seemed to have very little to do with reporting. Miklaszewski provided this detail, all the documents release were "as thick as a stack of 800 telephone books."

He emphasized the torture and murder of detainees by Iraqi forces and how US military forces were order not to intervene. He went on about the Pentagon's fears and that might have just seemed like reporting were it not for his final statements about the Pentagon: ". . . they understand that they are responsible for the leak of this information and those documents never should have gotten out to the public in the first place."

The documents shouldn't be available to the public? Is that reporting? It doesn't sound like it. It does sound like opinion and opinion that does not belong in the report because it shows clear bias.

At three minutes and 16 seconds, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric offered more time to the story than ABC did but less than NBC. On the plus side, they didn't use charged language. Wikileaks was "the website WikiLeaks" -- no "controversial" or "brazen" or any other leading adjectives. David Martin offered some bulletin points. WikiLeaks' Julian Assange was on via an Al Jazeera clip, Pentagon flack Geoff Morrell was quoted in the segment. Martin offered, "So far, Katie, what the documents tell us is that the Iraq War was even uglier than we thought."

Martin, like the other network's correspondents, repeated the claim that the Pentagon was worried about the names of informers popping up. No one bothered to point out that the Pentagon had access to the documents and that WikiLeaks had asked them to let them know if names of Iraqis needed to be redacted. This was addressed Friday morning on Democracy Now! when Pentagon Papers' whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg revealed this was done with the previous Afghanistan War release and was being done with the Iraq War release:

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. And moreover, they let the Pentagon know what they were releasing. They gave them the files in code to them and asked them actually to identify people that they hoped to be redacted from those. Now, the Pentagon refused, meaning they prefer to bring charges into -- both in court and in the press, of -- endanger, rather than actually to protect these people, showing the usual amount of concern they have over other humans.

AMY GOODMAN: Has the same been done with these 400,000 documents?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. That's why they're going over them now. They know what's coming out. And they have every ability, if people are endangered -- which actually is in question to this point. The fact that there's been no damage up 'til now really strongly questions the claims that were made earlier and, as I say, passed on by most of the mainstream press, very uncritically, that there was danger. But if there was, it may well have been in those 15,000 which WikiLeaks is properly going over still.

JUAN GONZALEZ: So, what you're saying is that WikiLeaks has let the Pentagon know precisely what it is about to release?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: To my understanding, they have. I'm not in the process. But I understand that they've said that they did make them aware of what it is and have invited them to cooperate in protecting those names. But as I say, the Pentagon, if there are such names, has preferred to make charges.

Saturday, NBC Nightly News had anchor Lester Holt and five minutes and 24 seconds to devote to the story. Apparently more time was needed due to even more charged language such as "controversial website WikiLeaks." Lester got right to the point, "Jim what's the Pentagon's reaction?" Jim Miklaszewski played along, "Lester, the Pentagon officials have condemned the WikiLeaks release of these military secrets." Miklaszewski then stuck to numbers for the bulk of his report such as "681 civilians were killed at [US] military checkpoints alone."

Jim Miklaszewski: It was also revealed that the US military knew that Iraqi security forces tortured and murdered detainees. American forces were ordered not to intervene but only to report it up the chain of command. One document states an American soldier watched an Iraqi officer strike a detainee with a baton and whip another detainee's feet and back with an electrical cable. The soldier reported the incident but the document shows there was no investigation. Americans also obtained a video showing Iraqi soldiers and an officer executing a detainee. That incident was also reported but nine days later [December 23, 2009] the case was closed.

The report always made WikiLeaks seem a little bit shady. For instance, "the Pentagon said" and "US officials fear" but "WikiLeaks claims they've released the stolen documents in the name of truth". Really? The Pentagon is exposed as a liar in the documents released and you're going to question WikiLeak's motives?

The report features Geoff Morrell at length (and twice) but WikiLeaks is given a single, brief sentence declared by someone never identified to NBC audiences and someone who is not, in fact, part of WikiLeaks. (It was John Sloboda of Iraqi Body Count.)

From Jim's report, Lester tossed to Richard Engel.

Richard Engel: The problem is they don't reflect what we were being told by the military at the time. Particularly before the surge, the military was saying that the situation on the ground was better than was being reported, that it was reporters who were exaggerating the problem. These documents show that the military knew full well how bad the situation was and was telling itself and reporting it internally that there was a really serious situation in Iraq.

Again, the documents expose the Pentagon as a liar but the one Jim's report doubts is WikiLeaks? Really?

CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor (that it's Saturday name) continued to report without charged language, which was a huge plus. David Martin added the Iraqi angle, how the documents "have opened old wounds in Baghdad and could damage Prime Minister Maliki's attempts to form a new government. Some of the abuse occurred when he was in power. And he accused WikiLeaks of deliberately timing the release of the 391,000 documents to sabotage his re-election."

The report featured Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, as well as as a clip of attorney Phil Shriner and IBC's John Sloboda speaking -- all three were properly identified. And Julian was quoted stating of the redcations to the documents, "What has been done is now far too redacted. It is, in fact, now, I would say, a bit of a travesty how redacted this material is." And that was the closest any network came to informing its audience that the Pentagon had a chance to ask for redactions.

At the request of an ABC New friend, we agreed to make Saturday's focus the work done on Good Morning America. Which was superior to the work done by World News Tonight. The segment was seven minutes, making it longer than what any of the network evening newscasts offered. Co-anchor Bianna Gododryga spoke with Martha Raddatz who pretty much gave the summary she had the evening before; however, Bradley Manning was referred to as "Bradley Manning" and not "Brad Manning" -- the only real difference we could tell in her two reports. That and allowing a quote from Julian Assange.

Co-anchor Dan Harris then spoke with a defensive Geoff Morrell who returned Dan's good morning greeting -- "Good Morning" is, after all, in the program's title -- with a whiny, "Not a very good morning over here [the Defense Department], Dan." Dan repeatedly asked him if US forces were ordered not to investigate and Geoff repeatedly danced around it. After Geoff's third dance, Dan declared, "Sounds like: Yes, perhaps they were told not to investigate." Dan then moved to the report where suspected insurgents were attempting to surrender to US military in a helicopter and the crew was told by the command that they could not accept the surrender (no one could surrender to an aircraft, is the claim, rather strange since, as one military historian pointed out to us, surrendering to a sea craft has long been acceptable) but Geoff just ran out the clock on him and refused to ever answer or even address the event.

If you watched all the broadcast network's evening news (plus Saturday's Good Morning America on ABC), what did you learn? "That you should have watched The NewsHour!" Yeah, we've used that punch line before.

Thing is, we can't use it this time. The NewsHour on Friday reduced the story to a headline read by Hari Sreenivasan:

The WikiLeaks Web site released nearly 400,000 secret U.S. files on the Iraq war late today. It was the largest leak of classified U.S. files in history. The documents count at least 15,000 civilian deaths that were never reported before. They also indicate U.S. officials failed to pursue accounts of Iraqi authorities brutalizing prisoners. WikiLeaks earlier published more than 90,000 documents on the Iraq war.

That was it, in full. The leaked documents were made available ahead of time to The New York Times in this country. (CNN claims they were offered them ahead of time as well but insists they turned down the offer.) The first reports filed by the paper (and by The Guardian and Al Jazeera) came just as the show had been hammered out and the segments set, plus no one with the program had the time to go through all the documents or even a large portion due to the late release. So you're left with ABC, CBS and NBC and, of those three, CBS did the best job. Saturday's report by David Martin was better than Friday's and both broadcasts used neutral language.


Jim: One ground rule for this roundtable: No WikiLeaks. We're planning to make that the editorial so I'm blocking that topic off. We are focusing on current events and many of them were raised in e-mails from readers. 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): Ty has an e-mail that's becoming fairly common. Ty?

Ty: This week it was Sandra asking when Terry Gross' sexism will be addressed next?

Ann: Well I address it every day at my website. September, for example, found Terry airing only two interviews with women. One was an old interview with Dolly Parton. She does a two-week salute to country music and Dolly's the only woman she can highlight. In terms of here, there are times when I say no on an article with Ava and C.I. on this topic just because I'm tired. They could go ahead and write it on their own and I'm okay with that. But there are other issues at play as well.

Ava: Right. This week we don't know what we're writing. We're doing something on Juan Williams. We're either doing an entertainment or a television news piece in addition to that. So the idea of doing a piece with Ann, fun though it might be, isn't possible this week. And we thought -- C.I. and I -- that we could do it this week. That changed last week when the attacks on LGBT rights started and we realized that would be a topic. Then the WikiLeaks thing came along. There's just too much this week. But as Ann pointed out, she covers it Monday through Friday at her site and, as I'll point out, she does a great job of it.

Jim: Okay and that brings up the big topic in the e-mails this week. Background, Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- which allows the military to discharge anyone they suspect of being gay -- was unconstitutional. She also ordered an injunction against the discharges. The White House claims to want to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, yet they've fought this ruling. And last week, the injunction -- not the ruling, the injunction -- was halted by a group of federal appeals judges. Ruth, you were among the ones who didn't write about the topic last week. I believe it was Ruth and Ann, correct?

Ruth: I believe that is correct. We were not in the mood when the ruling came down. We were both furious. Speaking for me, it is very difficult for me not to get very angry on this topic. My grandson Jayson is gay. It is very personal to me. Mike wrote Wednesday night, in "An ugly day," about how many of us were just too upset to write. Some of us, like Kat, were able to write about the topic the next day. Some of us were not able to. Ann and I were two who could not.

Ann: I would think, "I'll work it in tonight, just a sentence." But it just depressed me too much, I'm sorry. I knew that, by reposting the snapshot, anyone visiting my site could read about it because C.I. covered the topic in great detail in the snapshots. But I just wasn't able to cover it. Betty used the word "bitch" in her post "Sick of the ass in the White House" but changed it to "ass" before posting it. And I know that Marcia's "Valerie Jarrett, nobody voted for you, shut up" was 'upsetting' for at least two people who e-mailed her to whine. But if I'd written, my words would have been much more vulgar. When I'm that angry, I use every curse word I know.

Jim: And you were very angry?

Ann: And I am very angry.

Jim: Your husband was angry too. Cedric, you and Wally wrote -- joint-post -- "Shame on you, Mark Sherman" and "THIS JUST IN! STOP WHORING!" and did so early Thursday morning because you were too angry to write Wednesday night when the decision had been released.

Cedric: What I found interesting was the community reaction. Some, like Betty and Mike, for example, found a way to write about it immediately. Others found important topics to cover instead. A number of us were, quite honestly, frozen with anger. And, of course, C.I. didn't have the option of not writing since she writes three times a day during the week. So she had to cover it. And did. But I do wonder what would happen if it had been some other topic? I'm talking about within the community. We took that decision very personally.

Jim: Okay and I'm going to call a break on the topic, we'll come back to it in a bit. But first off, Dona has an e-mail regarding last week's "Roundtable." Dona?

Dona: Laurel e-mailed to take issue with Trina, Kat and Wally over their comments. She writes, "Everyone says they don't like attack ads but attacks do influence elections." Anyone?

Trina: I don't remember saying that attacks ads didn't influence. Clearly, from my statements, I was influenced. It made me completely uninterested in the elections. Furthermore, I was stating that no one had anything but attacks and I wasn't commenting, grasp this, on advertisements. I was talking about the never-ending attacks. I was talking about speeches, I was talking about debates. I believe I was clear that the attacks were turning me off.

Kat: I'll agree that Trina was clear and that she didn't raise the issue of ads. I don't know if Wally or I did. I'd have to go back and look. I doubt we did --

Jim: You didn't.

Kat: Okay, thank you. I didn't think so and my reason for not thinking so is that I thought Wally and I were referring to what we encountered on the road when we were speaking, to what people were saying.

Jim: Wally?

Wally: I have nothing to add, really. Sorry that Lauren --

Dona: Laurel.

Wally: Laurel. Sorry that Laurel thought we were referring to advertisements. I don't even watch TV. I'll stream online and I can't think of any ads I've seen on Hulu for political campaigns. The closest to watching political campaign ads I've come was a fact check that NPR's been doing on Morning Edition. I try to watch the network news at least three times a week via iTunes but there's no commercial for political campaigns in those podcasts. I really couldn't comment on advertisements because I haven't seen them.

Jim: Thank you. Can I ask a question of C.I., for a second? Wally catches three broadcasts a week. I'm wondering if you could sketch out what you catch? You and Ava, Wally and Kat are all on the road together. Here, you and Ava write about TV and frequently, such as in "The continued quest for inclusion," last week, you're covering TV news at The Common Ills.

C.I.: I have friends with all three commercial broadcast news and with PBS. What can happen is that one of them calls and says, "We've got ___ on today's ___" in which case, I'll check it out or, if pressed for time, say, "Give me a pull quote, give me an overview." I'll write up from that and link. If it applies. I'm pitched much more than ever goes up at the sites. Now in the case of the entry I did that you just named, in that case, I made a point to get all three plus The NewsHour on PBS because I knew that they should have covered it. It? I'm sorry, we're back to the judges allowing discharges to take place Don't Ask, Don't Tell yet again. So I watched all three broadcasts and only CBS Evening News with Katie Couric covered it. And PBS' The NewsHour did a better job than anyone in covering it, they did it with a news report and with a discussion. Again, in that case or a shooting on a base, I will check out all the coverage and evaluate it. Ava and I are checking out all of Friday's newscasts right now in case we're doing a WikiLeaks piece -- Ava and I alone doing one regarding the TV coverage. Did that answer your question?

Jim: Yeah in a way but I'm referring to Barry's e-mail more than anything else. He noted that you repeatedly, at The Common Ills, have things that aren't noticed and then get noticed. He used as an example your early coverage of Anthony Shadid's speech on a military coup possibly taking place in Iraq, covered by an obscure, little known Texas newspaper, and you explore that and then Barry sees it slowly pop up, days later, at other sites.

C.I.: That was a newspaper and not a TV thing. In that case, I don't remember the paper, I'm sorry. Wait, it's Mark Schlachtenhaufen of The Edmond Sun, I think that's right, who reported it. In that instance, a friend with AP actually read the article and called me about it. If people, this may get to what you're asking, think I'm reading one million papers a week and viewing every newscast and listening to every radio program, I'm certainly not. I'm on the road talking about Iraq and I'm dependent upon friends to call things to my attention -- and certainly community members do that as well -- and from that we get what we cover at The Common Ills. Does that get to your question?

Jim: It does. The biggest issue in the e-mails about roundtables? That C.I. doesn't speak of late in these roundtables. She and Ava take notes for this transcript piece -- they do not help type it up arguing they've already taken all the notes -- and that's part of the reason another is that she just doesn't feel like it because she feels that others need more of a chance to talk than she does.

Mike: Well, let me add to that because I wrote about this at my site last week. C.I.'s point is that she's doing at least 19 entries herself at The Common Ills each week while those of us with sites do 5. In addition, she can usually comment on most things while someone like Ann has to cover Fresh Air or Cedric and Wally have to turn whatever they cover into a humor piece. So they've got more restrictions on them at their sites and this is a forum where they can talk about things they might not get to otherwise. Also, she and Ava write at least one piece for this site each week, so they've got that as an outlet.

Jim: But it is a problem with readers of this site that, of late, C.I.'s not talking in these things. For weeks now that's been the biggest complaint in e-mails to this site.

C.I.: Well I'm sorry if someone was bothered. I don't feel I need to hog the show or steal the limelight. I'm perfectly happy just taking notes in the roundtable and not saying anything. Before another round of e-mails come in, I haven't had anything I said deleted, I just didn't say anything. For the reasons that Mike stated. I've spoken this time. Back to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Elaine: Which I will grab both to move the conversation along and because I didn't talk about it at mine. Why? I just journal. I'm not a blogger. I journal. I do a poor job, as I well know. Friday's entry had to be WikiLeaks. Thursdays I don't post. Wednesday, I knew about the decision but I didn't fully grasp it and needed additional coverage before I weighed in. I think C.I. has done a solid job of pointing out that there was Don't Ask, Don't Tell case in 2009 that the White House refused to appeal on because they didn't want Elena Kagan, then the White House Solictor General, to have to argue in court because they felt it would be "embarrassing" to her since she'd come out against Don't Ask, Don't Tell while at Harvard. So this notion that they had to file is nonsense. They never have to file. Administration often don't file. If Barack's against Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- as he insists he is -- then there was no need to file. In fact, I wish we'd do what C.I. did. In a snapshot last week, one of the aspects she raised was tax payer monies. I'd love to see us do a short piece on that. There was no logic behind appealing the injunction. Not when, supposedly, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is mere weeks away from repeal.

Marcia: I agree with Elaine and I'll add that nothing about it makes sense. They claim they want to repeal it -- the White House, Barack -- but their actions say otherwise. Now what are we supposed to judge by: Words or actions? I was always told it was actions. By his actions, Barack doesn't want to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Rebecca: Which is a really important point. Especially with Barack. We're sick of his 'pretty words' and they're turning out to be lies. Americans have every right to judge him by his actions and his actions insist that he is not opposed to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I want to throw in GetEQUAL's statement on the issue:

Today, Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL — a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization — issued the following statement in response to the ruling by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issuing a temporary stay against an earlier injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America. The stay was sought by the Department of Justice against a ruling last week that ordered the U.S. military to immediately stop enforcement of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law:

“This temporary stay, sought by President Obama’s Department of Justice, brings the military’s discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law back from the dead. It is a travesty that after numerous attempts, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder will go down in history as the Administration that breathed life back into ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The lives and careers of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers are now back in the crosshairs of our government and a renewed commitment to discrimination falls squarely in the hands of this White House.”

Rebecca (Con't): And, if I could, this is the Human Rights Campaign's statement:

Today the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stayed Judge Virginia Phillip's injunction regarding the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, in effect reviving the law that bars openly gay, lesbian and bisexual service members. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese released the following statement: "The revival of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law is a sad day for all Americans who want the best and brightest service members defending our country. Today's decision only furthers our resolve to send this law to the dustbin of history and also draws a spotlight on the administration to make good on their pledge to end these discharges that damage our national security."

Stan: And on the subject of the White House fighting in favor of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Ted Olson was the Solictor General in the Bush adminstration and he states they didn't have to appeal the judge's decision: "It happens every once in a while at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the US, will confess error or decline to defend a law. I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It would be appropriate for them to say, 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that'."

Betty: And yet we repeatedly get the crap that the administration had to do this, that Barack had no choice. That's bulls**t and I'm so damn sick of people covering for him. I'll tell you what else makes me sick, the silence from the left media. As Rebecca pointed out, The Nation and The Progressive have pointedly ignored this. I'm so damn sick of this attitude which is that gays can wait and take the back of the bus because reality is less important than spinning to get Democrats elected to office. It's as if each time you think they can't get any worse, The Nation and The Progressive prove you wrong. We need a real press, not a George Soros propaganda organ.

Isaiah: Well said. And it really is becoming obvious just how little our so-called 'independent' press is either 'independent' or a 'press.' And, I also agree that everyone's supposed to wait and if you object, you get someone screaming "special interests" or some such nonsense. We either have equality or we don't. The US can't be a little for equality, it's a yes or a no. And it's really telling how whoring for the Democratic Party is more important to publications like The Nation and The Progressive than the people of America are.

Jess: What bothers me is how there's been no leadership from the national Green Party. We've noted this since January 2009 but this is the time for the Green Party to show how it is different from the Democratic Party and how much like the Republican Party the Democratic Party is. But they've repeatedly refused to show that leadership and, in fact, the national party issued no statement on the injunction that again allows discharges under the unconstitutional Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Don't give me that s**t, Scott McLarty, that, "Liberals can only see as far as the next election. The Green Party is looking at the rest of the century." Well you can't tell it when the Green Party, at the national level, repeatedly fails to call out the Democratic Party on the issues that matter.

Dona: I would argue that the Green Party could have had the media attention the Tea Party now has if they had stood up -- as we repeatedly encouraged them to do in 2009 -- and been a critic of Barack from the left. They failed to stand up. There are individuals who have but, on a national level, they have been timid and scared. They've wasted time with the right which is not in charge when they should have gone after the centrist and corporatist War Hawk polices coming out of the Obama White House. This was their moment to shine, the Green Party, and thus far, my opinion, they have blown it. And I would argue that when a federal judge rules Don't Ask, Don't Tell unconstitutional and the White House fights that ruling, when the same judge ends discharges for being gay and the White House fights to reinstate the discharges, you either speak up or you admit that you're just not much of a political party. Or a news outlet to get back to the point Isaiah was making. And by the way, I am voting for Laura Wells for governor, I'm joining Betty and Jess in that.

Jim: Which brings up another thing I have to toss to C.I. for. On your silence in the most recent roundtables, some e-mails wondered if your silence was due to who people were voting for?

C.I.: Dona, Betty and Jess voting for Laura? No. I'm not bothered by that at all. I'm voting for Jerry Brown -- Ava and I noted that months and months ago. I've known Jerry forever, I will vote for him. Other people can vote as they want, that's not a problem. I've also noted I was voting for Gavin who I consider a wonderful person and friend -- Gavin Newsom. If Jerry weren't in the race, I might vote for Laura myself. But Jerry has always been loyal to me and has achieved a lot for California. I wish he had a better campaign, one that talked about his many accomplishments -- both as governor and as attorney general. I don't know who I'm going to vote for in the US Senate race. I'm leaning towards the Green Party candidate, Duane Roberts. The HRC -- Human Rights Campaign -- released a scorecard of US senators and it's embarrassing for HRC. All they cover is votes. Do we have any leadership issues? I think we do and I think Barbara Boxer would be in far less trouble than she currently is if she'd led on the issue of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I find it appalling that Carl Levin, Kirsten Gillibrand and Roland Burris have led on this issue while Boxer has not. I've heard a million excuses from her and her campaign as to why she's been such an embarrassment on the issue. The most laughable being the Prop 8 vote in 2008 here in California. Prop 8 was not about Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Californians overwhelmingly support the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Boxer has shirked her responsbility and walked away from an issue that could have energized her campaign. And to be clear, I'm not appalled by Levin, Gillibran and Burris leadership. I'm thrilled that they showed leadership -- and I applaud each of them for it -- but I'm appalled that it fell to them and not Barbara Boxer. In each case, they had more to lose than Boxer. It's a non-controversial issue for most Californians. More so than in many other states. Barbara Boxer should have led on it, she refused to. If I was voting today, I'd be voting for Duane. But I haven't decided yet.

Jim: Ava?

Ava: My family has worked on many of Jerry Brown's campaigns over the years. He would have my vote for what he's done and out of family loyalty. Gavin Newsom? I can't think of a better politician in the state. In terms of senator, I'm leaning towards Duane as well. And, Jim, you and Dona went to hear John Dennis speak and, honestly, the more I've thought about his stands and especially how he came across in that show C.I. and I reviewed, the more I'm considering voting for him. We're voting next weekend, so I'm still tossing it back and forth. Dennis is a Republican. He's also against the wars. He's also running against epic-fail Nancy Pelosi.

Dona: Ava, can I talk to you a little about that? We, you and I, have never voted for a Republican before. Now we're both considering voting for Dennis -- in fact, I'm sure I'm voting for him. This would be a big step for you and I'm just trying to get at why you are considering taking it. First, there's Nancy, correct?

Ava: Correct. She's stopped representing the eighth district. She's far too right-wing for the eighth district. Her positions are not what we expect from her. In addition, he really did come across well in that TV program, it was a reality program where they followed two Republicans running for Congress. Dennis came across like a human being and one concerned about ending the wars. In addition, there was the report you and Jim gave on when you heard him speak. Even Jim, who I don't think is going to vote for him -- though I could be wrong -- found things to be impressed with.

Dona: So, and this is what I wanted to ask, you've got the fact that you don't care for the incumbent, you've got the fact that, via TV, you've seen the candidate in semi-action and you've got the fact that friends have told you about him. Which mattered the most if you were ranking? I'm using you in an attempt to determine the power of word of mouth?

Ava: I love being a test case. And there's also the fact that Cindy Sheehan's blogged favorably of Dennis. I would say that they're all about equal for me. Probably the TV show was the most important because without it, I'd probably be ignoring Dennis. In our review, C.I. and I noted that the TV show, I think it was Running, allowed Dennis to come across as more of a person than did the local press coverage. And I still agree with that judgment call. And when I'm hearing you or Jim talk about his positives, I, in my mind, go back to the footage from that TV show. So I'd say it laid the groundwork.

Jim: Okay. I think we heard from everyone. I promised Wally I'd make time for him during political races.

Wally: My mother and grandfather are voting for someone and they asked me to note that. For US senator, they're voting for Charlie Crist. He is the current governor of our state, Florida, and he is running for the US senate as an independent candidate against the Republican candidate -- who leads in the polls by a huge margin -- and the Democratic candidate -- who trails Charlie. They were leaning towards it anyway due to the fact that they can't stand the Republican but RFK Jr's endorsement pushed them over to Crist's side. Not because, "It's RFK Jr.!" but because they agreed with the argument he made. Other endorsements made a difference as well, I think [US House Rep. Robert] Wexler's was a big one, but that was the deciding thing for them, RFK Jr.'s endorsement and they both wanted me to note this race.

Jim: Okay, next week we may not have time for this. A number of participants will be voting in what Mike calls "Big Mass" --

Mike: Best damn state in the union!

Jim: So, Mike, what about your vote?

Mike: I'm voting for Jill Stein for governor, she's a Green, and I'm voting for Rick Purcell for Lt. Governor. They're both Green Party candidates.

Rebecca: I'm voting for both of those candidates as well.

Trina: I'm voting for Jill Stein, otherwise I don't know. In fact, if I hadn't decided to vote for Jill, I probably wouldn't even be voting this cycle.

Jim: Anyone else?

Ann: I'll be voting Green only.

Jess: I'll be voting Green in all races Greens run in except for Lt. Govenor and I'll be voting for Gavin Newsom on that.

Ruth: I will be voting for Richard Blumenthal for the US senate for reasons which include his record, his positions and the fact that The New York Times stuck their big nose into our race and distorted and attacked Mr. Blumenthal.

Jim: Alright then. On that note we will wrap up. This is a rush transcript. Our e-mail address is

NPR: Establishment radio (Ava and C.I.)

NPR fired analyst Juan Williams last week for his remarks on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News program.

Juan Williams: Wait a second though, wait, hold on, because if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious, you don't say first and foremost, we got a problem with Christians. That's crazy.

No, that wasn't what got him fired.

Juan Williams: I don't know what is in that guy's head. But I'm saying, we don't want in America, people to have their rights violated to be attacked on the street because they heard a rhetoric from Bill O'Reilly and they act crazy. We've got to say to people as Bill was saying tonight, that guy is a nut.

No, that wasn't what got him fired. Before making the points above (and others), he first stated, "I think, look, political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality. I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America's war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don't think there's any way to get away from these facts. But I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all as President Bush did after 9/11, it's not a war against Islam."

When covering the story, most outlets only went with the last quote. (You can watch the video in full at Mediaite.) Juan began the discussion, in reply to Bill O'Reilly's question, by first talking about his own feelings. As is repeatedly stressed in any therapy sessions, feelings just are. They aren't wrong, they aren't right, they just are. We can't control our feelings, we can control our actions. And that actually appeared to be the message behind Juan's full statements.

This seems to be lost -- a lot has gotten lost with the rise of Media Matters which is now calling for the firing of Mara Liasson by NPR or NPR's insistence that she no longer appear on Fox News. Coward Eric Boehlert takes issue with interpretations that he's calling for Mara's firing so we've allowed that he's calling for that or for her to lose her Fox News job. He's calling for her to lose one job, that's for damn sure.

Media Matters has become a crap ass cesspool and Eric is nothing but a little coward who couldn't get to the heart of the 2008 campaign despite having a full book to do so. One boring story after another and he couldn't get to the heart of the sexism expressed throughout 2008 -- first used to torpedo Hillary Clinton's winning campaign (over 16 million votes in the primaries), then used to ignore Cynthia McKinney's run for the presidency and used to destroy Sarah Palin's run for the vice presidency. You didn't find any of those details because Media Matters is a joke, a tired, dirty joke.

Doubt us? Eric Hananoki wrote up a little item trashing Fox for allowing Liz Trotta to be on the air after she "remarked that she wished somebody would 'knock off' both Osama Bin Laden and then-candidate Barack Obama."

Then Eric Hananoki makes the mistake of actually quoting Trotta, "The vast right-wing conspiracy blame has been undermined by her [Clinton's] evasions, by her outright lies, if I may say, by her pandering, by her race-baiting, and now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama - Obama - well, both if we could." No, she didn't express that she wished to kill Barack. She was attacking Hillary Clinton and jumping on the bandwagon -- led by MSNBC including Media Matters heroes Rachel Maddow and sexual prick Keithie Olbermann -- that accused Hillary of calling for or wishing for Barack's assassination. (Hillary wasn't doing that.) We don't agree with what Liz Trotta said but it's not what Media Matters is portraying it as and that, more and more, is the big problem.

Media Matters is the story of a White woman with strong vaginal odor, a closeted gay man ready to come out and a splash of George Soros money mixed in. David Brock was regularly forced to wear a hair-shirt while appearing on Al Franken's Air America Radio program. We defended David against that treatment, called it out. David Brock, for those who don't know, was part of a right-wing echo chamber in the 90s. His sole claim to fame was coining the phrase "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty" to describe Anita Hill.

Though Anita Hill was back in the news last week, some may not know who she is. She's a law professor. She once worked for the EEOC under Clarence Thomas. Thomas was nominated by George H.W. Bush for the Supreme Court. Anita Hill came forward to testify publicly that he sexually harassed her. David Brock repeatedly lied to destroy Anita Hill -- he was one of many. As one of many, he also was responsible for many lies in many, many attempts to smear then-President Bill Clinton. He is, in fact, the idiot who lifted up the rock that Paula Jones had been living under.

The damage he did in the nineties was immense. As the decade came to a close, he declared he'd changed. He was no longer going to be a hit man for the right-wing. He was the subject of an Esquire article and the author of a book, both of which asserted his assassinations were in the past. But from the start, Media Matters saw itself as part of an emerging left wing echo chamber. That was the problem. That was always going to be the problem.

As Barbra Streisand's Margaret tells a Fidel Castro clone in Up The Sandbox, we don't need to become more like you, we only need to be more like ourselves. We're leftists. We don't hide that fact. We don't pretend otherwise. We're outspoken feminists and we're proud of that. We honestly believe that our notions and beliefs can win in a fair debate. They can lose sometimes too. Sometimes because they're poorly argued, sometimes because our take is just flat out wrong. That is what the US is supposed to be about, a fair exchange in the public square, a give and take.

But while we believe that we can win on the merits, others claiming to be on our side don't think so. Take the liars who got on board 'framing' and insisted it was just about marketing a message. No, it wasn't about that. It was about watering down what the left is supposed to believe in. And it was only the latest hula hoop in a long, long line of hula hoops that was supposed to be 'the answer.' It's never the answer.

We win with truth.

Or we don't win.

A debate you won on deceit isn't a win. A point you scored with a factual lie isn't a point you won.

We never needed an echo chamber but certain elements of the left worked overtime to create one. That's how you get, for example, the shameful Journolist. It's how you get talking points pushed by various websites and organized by the White House. (For the record, anyone doing the White House's bidding? You're not independent. Give it up. That also includes anyone married to someone working for the White House whose outlet still lets them cover the White House.) Those who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries or just believed in fairness saw the damage the left wing echo chamber could do. Florida and Michigan were trashed with no one defending them. The Democratic Party was supposed to be the friend to the worker but, time and again, the 'independent' media was attacking large portions of the working class. Writers (don't call them reporters) like John Nichols would accuse Hillary of some perceived crime and when it turned out to be true -- but true of Barack, not Hillary -- the same writers would immediately drop the subject. Campaign finance reform is supposed to be one of the left's core beliefs but when Barack broke his promise to utilize public funds, no one said "Boo!"

It wasn't just that Barack was given the nomination, it was that no one in 'independent' media wanted to talk about just how dirty the whole thing was. It was that everyone in 'independent' media (even allegedly honest voices like Paul Street) wanted to ignore the trampling over of the rights and votes of the majority of Democrats. What went down was dirty. What makes even harder to forgive was the refusal of any 'news' outlet on the left to get honest about what went down.

Eric Bohlert will always be a clown and a lying clown because he wrote a book that didn't have a damn thing to add to the conversation. But then, he wouldn't get all that 'blog love' for his bad book if he told the truth, now would he?

The truth was the casualty of the likes of Media Matters. If there was a lesson to be learned by and from David Brock, it was that whoring and lying for partisan reasons (or for any reason) will leave you hollow and destroy your life. Better to be reviled for telling the truth or your truth than to whore.

But that wasn't the lesson absorbed. And it's strange because David Brock the person knows all of this. But David Brock the persona of Media Matters refuses to speak of it.

We're all for fact checking. We're all for calling out imbalances. But we don't believe you play favorites. We don't believe you give one side a slide. If you're a left watchdog and sexism is running rampant, you call it out. You don't say, "Oh, it's our friends MSNBC and Jeff Cohen says we can't attack it because we need an echo chamber of our own!" You don't play that game. In most articles we write, we're calling out a number of people including ones we know, including friends. We're going to be calling out a woman we know in this article shortly. If you're going to do this, if you're going to make the call, you have to be prepared to make the hard call. If you can't do that, you need to find something else to cover.

So FAIR's silence about Keith Olbermann's non-stop attacks on Hillary and various other women? Shameful. Disgusting. They go after Chris Matthews like crazy and try to pretend that makes them 'watchdogs.' It doesn't. Nor does pretending that the increasingly fact-free Rachel Maddow has anything to impart.

In the above we're not talking about websites like The Confluence. Certainly websites like that argued for reality. And we like Riverdaughter but that doesn't mean we don't criticize her. [Disclosure, we do not know Riverdaughter. We did agree with Ty that we needed to be delinked from The Confluence and supported Ty's call on that due to postings at The Confluence which went against everything we believed in. We know Ty asked nicely to be delinked and then Riverdaughter turned it into a huge drama.] And sometimes, she's just ignorant of what she's writing about.

Last week, she shared that she thought Juan needed to be fired and she also called for the firing of Mara. We don't agree with either of those calls. That doesn't make her ignorant. That's her opinion against ours and may both compete in the public square fairly.

But here's where she's ignorant, any time she needs to go back further than the year 2000. It is ignorant beyond belief to write the following:

Juan Williams parked himself on NPR during the Bush years. That’s when I really started to notice him on NPR. It was about that time that Congress appointed some Republican operative to the head of the corporation for public broadcasting and severely cut the budgets of CPB programming. Eventually, NPR was pretty much on its own, getting underwriting from companies that specialize in 'Wealth Management". The tenor of the reporting changed and Juan Williams was one of the leaders of that change.

The late great Molly Ivins was warning about the changes at NPR as far back as the eighties and about the corporate underwriting that Riverdaughter only noticed when George W. Bush occupied the White House. It's been an issue the left has (rightly) called out since the seventies. Riverdaughter lives on an ahistorical plane -- and that we call out.

For those who don't realize the long history of corporatism at NPR, we'll offer this by the aforementioned Cohen and Norman Solomon:

With the health reform debate heating up, you might think National Public Radio is a good place to hear analysts offering a wide variety of views. After all, NPR is not sponsored by insurance firms, drug companies or other special interests with a direct stake in the debate.

To which Riverdaughter might say, "That proves my point! In 2009, NPR was doing just that, refusing to cover single-payer!" Yes, they were. However, Cohen and Solomon's column that we're quoting from? Published May 25, 1994. And never forget that in 2000, NPR launched a war against community radio (and the Clinton administration and Congress sided with NPR).

NPR is not left and NPR is not right. It is the mirror of an administration unless Congress breaks with the administration. If the majority of Congress breaks with an administration, you get two establishment views in contradiction with one another covered. That happened after the 1994 mid-terms, after the 2006 mid-terms and may happen after the 2010 mid-terms. But it is not two slices of opinion, it's two slivers of a generally agreeing establishment that get to speak. Or haven't you noticed that the ridiculous Marketplace is inescapable on NPR but there's no Workplace or any regular focus on workers' issues?

[Ridiculous? That's not opinion, that's fact. When a Marketplace interview with Elmore Leonard refuses to address the book Leonard's just written because the host instead wants to tell Leonard what sort of book he should write and, when the author says he's not interested, continue telling him he should write it, pitch to him what it should be about and hector him for not being interested, we've entered into ridiculous territory. We look forward to Kai Ryssdal next pitching his dog-eared script to Martin Scorsese insisting a feel-good family picture is just what Scorsese 'needs' to do.]

It's best reflected in the voices heard from in the lead up to the Iraq War. You didn't hear the voices of peace. You heard people who wanted to go to war one way, and people who wanted to go to war another. You heard them over and over on NPR show after show. And if you support war -- especially illegal wars of aggression -- you were well represented. If you opposed that war, you may as well have been invisible. Why was it so? Because Bush wanted war and the the Democrats -- as a group -- in Congress went along with it.

It wasn't left or right. It was establishment.

We were appalled in 2001 and 2002 to hear the sucking up to Bush that happened over and over. By the same token, the little war against Republicans that Terry Gross was allowed to conduct from November 2009 through December 2009 disgusted us. Strangely, Alicia Shepard -- NPR's ombudsperson -- ignored that. Claimed she couldn't comment on Fresh Air. Despite the fact that she had before, despite the fact that a previous ombudsperson once made his entire column about Fresh Air. That was the Bill O'Reilly interview and Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress when O'Reilly walked out on Terry so NPR scolded her publicly.

The current establishment is a Democratic White House and Democratic Congress (in both houses). Which is how a lot of things took place in the last two years without official objection and without anyone calling it out. It's why, despite the fact that a few years back, NPR was worried about the monitoring of programs such as The Diane Rehm Show by a Bush administration flunky, they've pretty much thrown balance out the window.

Which is how you ended up with not just the firing of Juan Williams last week, but a minefield of embarrassments for the CEO and president of NPR. Ruth documented this last week in three posts:

Don't like something on NPR? According to CEO and president Vivian Schiller, you don't contact the ombudsperson, you just don't listen. National Public Radio is only for those who agree with Vivian. (Vivian is the person we know that we would prefer to ignore in this article; however, we can't and we won't pull punches.) Vivian had no idea how elitist her remark sounded. She still needs to issue an apology for that remark.

After Juan was fired, Vivian fostered an anti-Juan climate. This allowed a Friday piece to run as "Fox Rewards Williams With $2 Million Contract." That's snarky and it's offensive. NPR realized that and they changed it after they published it. They changed it (to "Fox Gives Juan Williams $2 Million Contract") and failed to issue a correction, clarification or note that they had changed it.


Where is the ombudsperson?

If you change a headline, if you change any detail of a published story, you need a note explaining you made changes. But that snarky attitude? Vivian displayed it publicly. She declared that Juan's opinions were something that should be kept between him and his analyst or publicist. She stated that public the day after his firing. She stated that publicly to a room full of journalist.

Someone lost a job -- something many Americans fear currently -- and there's the person in charge of everything -- the president and CEO -- mocking him in public, making light of his firing. It was disgraceful. Yes, she issued an apology, but it really doesn't matter. That remark begs the question of whether or not she's fit for her job. It was insulting to Williams, it went beyond the pale of anything an employer should say and it was just tacky.

Tacky may not be deleting Juan's NPR page where NPR extolled him for 'wisdom' and much more but it is certainly tacky to delete the list of his stories filed over the years -- which, NPR has done.

Vivian likes to publicly pretend that Juan was expressing his opinion and that's not allowed in an analyst. Barbara Walters, among others, has publicly scoffed at that line of argument.

Was Juan offensive? To some people he was, to some people he wasn't. Was it a fireable offense?

We think a fireable offense for an NPR employee would be disrespect for the listeners. Vivian's already demonstrated that, of course, however, we're not talking about her.

We're talking about Tom Gjelten who is billed as an NPR reporter. And who demonstrates disdain whenever he appears on The Diane Rehm Show. It's there that close listeners can hear him laugh at callers. He's especially tickled by those with non-US accents. In fact, someone saying they were French on Friday's broadcast -- after he'd already trashed the French -- caused him to giggle-snort yet again. It's not professional. (One panelist who joined Tom in laughter at a caller earlier this year was not aware that the microphones picked that up -- especially evident if you listen with headphones -- and when confronted by us agreed the behavior was unprofessional.)

He insults listeners to the show and gets away with it?

Really, Vivian?

Really, Alicia?

On Friday's show, a caller with a British accent asked about the figures for Afghanistans killed that Tom had been tossing around and whethere they were verified. Tom got very angry and snapped that (a) he got those figures from NATO (as WikiLeaks proved this week, militaries lie) and (b) NPR has a reporter in Afghanistan! One reporter's able to confirm deaths around the country?

No, it didn't make sense but it yet again let Tom come off as a hot head. He can't handle the people, that becomes very obvious very quickly.

Can't handle the people? Can't even see 'em. That was obvious on Friday's All Things Considered when Tom wanted to 'report' on WikiLeaks.

". . . what the Pentagon spokesman said . . . He described these . . . Now, the Pentagon says . . .

Golly, the Pentagon's so lucky to have Tom to repeat their every mood and utterance. But what did other people think?

SIEGEL: And reaction to the release today?

GJELTEN: Well, the Pentagon is, understandably, very angry, as they were when the documents from Afghanistan were released. They said this decision to release them was made cavalierly. They do point out - and I can't say I disagree - that the period in Iraq that these documents covered was already very well chronicled. They say it does not bring new understanding to those events. Again, they emphasized the danger to U.S. intelligence that may be raised from the release of these documents.

What was the reaction? And Tom's going back to the Pentagon. That's he's already covered. Might peace activists have a reaction? Might attorneys working on torture cases have opinions? Might human rights groups have opinions?

All Tom spat up was what the Pentagon jerked off into his mouth.

Were we Vivian, we'd be much more concerned with a Tom Gjelten than with a Juan Williams. But that is NPR. "What's the reaction" may be the question but the NPR answer will always be a government source.

In 2006, Juan Williams would never have been fired. It was a different administration. Juan's big crime wasn't what he said, it was that he said it when a Democrat was in office. As if to back that point up, many are whining about a comment he made -- apparently in jest -- comparing Michelle Obama to Stokely Carmichael. Though Juan apparently meant it for laughs, we don't think anyone being compared to Stokely is an offense. He's a historical figure who accomplished a great deal. Yes, Juan mocked the sitting First Lady and you better believe that's NPR offense.

NPR is not left radio, it's establishment radio. And it has a knee-jerk audience that you saw all last week offering excuses. For example, there are calls by some Republicans to cut NPR's funding. And that funding is approximately $90 million dollars.

Some lefties rushed forward to tell you NPR hardly got any money from the federal government! They'd prove it by offering you a percentage -- __% of its budget is how much comes from the federal government! Or they'd insist that NPR got no tax payer monies!

$90 million is not small change. Especially in a bad economy. It is insulting for whores on the left to pretend that it's not a significant amount of money. (It is an ant and the military budget is a fleet of tankers by comparison, yes, but $90 million is still a significant amount of money.)

NPR gets tax payer monies. Whether they were trying to lie about that or not, we can't tell. The whole NPR process is confusing to many. The $90 million goes to individual stations who carry NPR programs. So the argument by some on the left last week was that NPR doesn't receive tax payer monies. That's a lie.

Let's illustrate: We are XNPR out of Portland, Oregon. We just started up and we're going to carry various NPR programs. As a result, we'll have to pay a percentage to carry those programs, we'll have to pay NPR. How much we pay will be based on our listener size. We are spending the money on local programming -- which is cheap (get honest, it's all a bunch a call in shows, very few NPR stations do local newscasts) -- and we're turning a huge amount over to NPR to carry their shows. (This is why, as we've noted before many times, NPR friends tend to get very mad when we note PRI programs. Every PRI program carried by an NPR station means less money for NPR.)

Our opinion is that Juan Williams didn't deserve to be fired. Our opinion is that he was in a hostile work environment at NPR as evidenced by their vanishing of him, by claiming he was "rewarded" and by the remarks of NPR's CEO and president. He was a target long before he made those remarks. Mara is currently a target which is why we're now walking away from Media Matters forever more. They're actively working to get Mara fired. We never needed a Media Matters. We needed a watchdog, we need plenty of those. But we didn't get that. We got a Democratic Party organ making often dubious calls in attempts to work the refs. That doesn't advance a damn thing. But that's the reality of an echo chamber: When everyone's working the same page, when everyone's reciting the same talking points, individual thought's gone out the window. And that advances nothing.


10-26-10 Ty note: With Ava and C.I.'s permission, I have added "White" before woman in the pargaraph on Media Matters. Some e-mailing were asking if it was a reference to Anita Hill? No, it was not. It's a reference to a White woman who is there at the birth of Media Matters.

Politics: Who will they attack next?

Barack Undocumented?

Explain the above to us, because we're confused. As we read this flyer sent out by the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee, we're seeing that poster on the stick with Barack's picture implying that he wasn't born in this country.

Is that right?

We're not understanding how promoting that rumor (which we believe is false) is helpful to either the election or to Barack himself.

Who approved this flier?

Early last week, we thought this would be a political edition. And among the ideas we tossed around was one from Dallas about the political advertisements he's receiving. Looking them over, we agreed they were disturbing.

Take the one below, still from the Texas State Democratic Party. Note the picture of American people.


Presumably, they are conservatives. Maybe not all, but presumably the bulk are. They're still Americans. Help us out on this, because we're confused: When did American people become "the enemies"?

Okay, the Nazis? Yeah, we can understand that. But the American people? Enemies? Just because they vote differently?

This is how you build a winning campaign?

Atika Shubert on AssMatch

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Atika Shubert
on AssMatch since July 2000

a shubert

Occupation: Media Whore

Favorite song: "H.W.C." by Liz Phair

Favorite non-porn film: The Ruling Class

Favorite film period: Sometimes I think it's a toss up between Rezko Films' Barrack's Big Stimulus Package and Sasha Grey's amazing work in Throat: A Cautionary Tale but then the auteur in me insist nothing will ever top Silwa Reality Productions' Pissing Babes.

Favorite non-porn film quote: "You were fornicating lovers! Sperm dancers!"

Favorite film quote period: "I don't know where a f**king bike trail is. I just want to get ass f**ked. Do you guys think you can help me?"

Favorite scent: DKN Scat for Hookers

Favorite position: Prone

Fun things and likes: Focusing on the tree to ignore the forest.

John Anthony La Pietra

This is from the campaign of Green Party candidate John Anthony La Pietra:

John Anthony La Pietra for
Fairer, Better Elections
Secretary of State * Green Party
386 Boyer Court * Marshall, MI 49068

News Release: October 20, 2010

La Pietra Posts Status of Responses from County Clerks
to Request for Voting-Conditions Survey Information
UPDATE: A Dozen More Counties Heard From -- Only 24 Still Silent
on Precinct Lists, Polling Places, or How Many Voters Registered

After yesterday's reminders and last night's news release, a number of county clerk's offices have contacted John Anthony La Pietra -- the Green Party of Michigan’s candidate for Secretary of State -- today with information on how many voters are registered in each precinct in their counties, and where the polling places are.

John has now heard from 59 out of 83 counties -- and 50 of them have already provided all the information he asked for in a copy-and-paste-able format as he requested, so he can use it to develop a statewide precinct database for his Survey of Voting Conditions.

One more county may also have sent John full information, but he hasn’t looked at the file yet because that county proposed to charge him for it. John points out two reasons why no fee would be appropriate:

* There is no copying cost involved, since the information
is being sent electronically.

* And the clerks would be assembling and using this same
information themselves at this time to plan and prepare
for the election: deciding how many ballots to buy for
each precinct, writing the required Notice of Election
advertisements and having them published, and so on.
So giving John the information too doesn't involve
any unreasonable added labor costs.

"Besides," he adds, "the survey is being done for the general benefit of the public -- and I've pledged to release the results to the public and give them to the new Secretary of State, if it isn't me. So any fees that might otherwise be justified should be waived."

Voters who want to know how their clerks have responded to this request so far can see an updated status report on John's campaign Website at

John's initial request to the clerks is also on line, at

And a copy of the survey sheet for individual voters to take with them to the polls November 2 is posted at

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