Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Circle Jerk Swallows (Ava and C.I.)


Not being Blogger Boiz, we were never invited to the Circle Jerk (Ezra and others are pictured above, the token is most likely Digby).

Being independent women, we never wanted to go down the Circle Jerk, to see Ezra and the rest pulling on their tiny puds, making their sex faces at one another as they offered the press equivalent of "Dear Penthouse Forum."  ("So this real editor of a like real paper e-mails me and says, 'You should write for us.  I would like . . .'")

Being feminists means we refrain from Bash The Bitch.  That doesn't translate as "We must not criticize other women."  We do that often -- positively and negatively.  We've called out Ms., we've praised Ms.  The same with Women's Media Center, Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan and assorted others.

Independence means you're not co-opted.

It means, for example, that you don't e-mail your peers that Sarah Palin gave an amazing speech at the 2008 GOP convention but post at The Nation sneers and attacks on her.  You know, what Katha Pollitt did.

If we have an opinion, we share it.  If we're sharing it, it's our honest opinion -- fleeting or fixed.  You don't need a decoder ring, we say what we mean.

But you realize that's not always the case.

You realize, for example, that Katha Pollitt and others used Ezra Klein's Journolist to plot and plan how to trick people.  Opinion writers refused to publicly call out rampant sexism while doing so on Journolist with some arguing that Keith Olbermann's sexism was a-okay as long as he kept calling out torture.

As if domestic abuse isn't torture?  As if domestic abuse isn't rooted in sexism?

That's what happens when a bunch of immature boys (of various ages) start a list-serv and a bunch of pathetic women like Katha Pollitt are so eager to be part of the Circle Jerk that they betray their own gender.

The Circle Jerk at its least appalling works like this.  Blogger A e-mails Greg Sargent for a link and he's friends with Blogger A so he links (but doesn't disclose relationship or that he was asked to link) and he asks Ezra to link and then, before you know it, some minor and unimportant distraction dominates the online world as each of the boiz links and links and links.

It's not about important things mind you.  We screamed our heads off trying to get attention to the BBC Arabic and Guardian newspaper documentary on counterinsurgency, for example.  We did the same with Amnesty's recent report on the state of Iraq today.

You'll notice that the Ezra Kleins don't pick up on topics like that.  They don't do the heavy lifting.  They can almost manage popularizing a sex scandal.


What they do is amplify each other's partisan attacks.

And further degrade the national discourse.

Greg Mitchell is a joke and has always been a joke.  He was  a sexist pig in the 70s who had done a whole lot to earn that reputation.  In the 00s, at Editor and Publisher, he emerged presenting himself as a non-partisan voice who happened to be a Bush critic.  That was a cute little lie.

His sexism continued.  In reflecting on Iraq this go-round, Greg finally discovered the Dixie Chicks.  In the past, as we documented in real time, no women could please Greg.  He did his little top ten people telling the truth about Iraq pieces yearly and we'd notice that women never made the list.  (Once a group of unnamed women -- McClatchy's Iraqi writers -- made the list.)

We called him out for his sexism repeatedly and stood alone in doing so.  (This site called him out for his habit of changing statements that were false and not putting in corrections.)  He's pretty much useless and, were it not for the Circle Jerk, his career (such as it is) would be over.

The Circle Jerk is being activated currently to save Greg's whiny and poor writing.

Michael Calderone (Huffington Post) rushed in to rescue Greg after the Outlook editor of The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada, decided not to run a piece.  The piece was being killed which is a good thing for a writer.  A novelist, for example, wrote a column that she sent off to The New York Times opposing the Iraq War before it started and the paper chose not to run it.  As a working writer, a fee for that would have been good.  She got no payment from the paper.  Greg had been commissioned to write a piece on a topic.  When the paper chose not to use it, they offered him a kill fee.

Carlos Lozada has explained what type of piece Greg was asked to write and Greg has foolishly posted the piece he 'wrote' at his website.

It was a mess.  Reading over Greg's 'writing,' we were reminded of Death Becomes Her, specifically after Goldie Hawn's Helen has had a meltdown following Meryl Streep's Madeline stabbing her in the back.  Helen ends up in an institution where a doctor (played by the late Alaina Reed Hall of 227 and Seseame Street fame) attempts to assist her in group therapy.

Doctor:   So what about you, Helen?  We haven't heard from you in awhile.  Is there . . . anything you'd like to . . . talk about . . . with the group?

Other patients stare nervously at Helen.

Helen:   Yes.  I would like to talk about . . .  Madeline Ashton.

Other patients begin screaming.  

Patient 1: Stop it!  Stop it!

Doctor clutches head as Helen looks around at the screamers.

The doctor quickly takes Helen into her office and wants to know, "Is this where we are, Helen?  Six months of therapy, you're not even one pound lighter, and we're still talking about Madeline Ashton?"

That's what we thought of when we read Greg's 'column.'

Carlos Lozado publicly explained what was wanted:

We invited Greg Mitchell -- a journalist for whom we have great respect -- to contribute a piece for Outlook on the art of the Iraq war mea culpa. We’d noticed that journalists and policy types had been issuing statements of apology on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the invasion, and we thought it would be interesting to have someone analyze the phenomenon in greater depth. He agreed to do it and we were grateful that he turned it around in short order, given our tight deadline. However, upon reviewing the draft, we felt that the piece offered too much of a rundown of the apologies, rather than drawing many broader analytical points or insights.

The paper wanted, to use Julia Phillips' favorite phrase, a broad vista.  What Greg offered was an embarrassment and a sure sign that bad blogging can lead to bad writing.

Greg's garbage, in fact, reads like a blog post.  A bad one.  It lists this apology and that apology, using bold print from time to time in an attempt to disguise the fact that he's penned a laundry list and not a column.

He himself dubs the laundry list a "catalog."  He wasn't asked to do that.

He was asked to write about the broader themes, the bigger picture.

He failed at the assignment.

He failed spectacularly.

A little more than half-way in, he writes, "Now let’s flash forward to this past two weeks, when Iraq (remember Iraq?) re-emerged in the news and opinion sections."

"At last," we thought, "he has a point and he's going to get to it."

Nope.  And he may trash others with "remember Iraq?" but he certainly doesn't.

There's nothing in there noting the rape of Iraqi women and girls in prisons and detention centers.  There's nothing in his garbage about the fact that ongoing protests are taking place in Iraq and have since December 21st.

The man who wrote "remember Iraq?" clearly does not.

The media failed on Iraq.  They failed for a number of reasons -- the biggest of which was faux 'realism' -- but no one, including Greg Mitchell -- wants to write about that.

But guess what?  That's not the most important story ten years later.

The media failure matters only because of what took place in Iraq -- the topic Greg Mitchell never wants to write about.  What took place and what is taking place, the crimes visited upon the Iraqi people by a government (and a press) that cloaked imperialism and a resource war in the name of 'liberation' and 'freedom.'

The Circle Jerk dictates that we all lie and say, "Poor Greg Mitchell.  And he wrote a great column."

We're not members of the Circle Jerk so we don't have to lie.

Michael Calderone has to lie.  That's why he writes, "The Post's decision to run Farhi's piece defending the press, and not Mitchell’s, got a lot of attention Sunday morning on Twitter."

Is that what Calderone 'observed'?

Like this attention from Twitter:

  1. Wow! WaPo killed 's piece on Iraq media failure, but ran Farhi's defense:
  2. Yeah, guess he's only had since Tuesday to actually read the piece before critiquing.
  3. But neglects to mention I interviewed/quoted Landay, Pincus -- reporters who got it right: (2/2)
  4. WaPo's Farhi suggests my Iraq media "failure" piece "oversimplifies" in not acknowledging some got it right: (1/2)

 Yeah, it looks like it did cause a stir but who was stirring?  There are four Tweets from Calderone in one hour -- as well as a Tweet whining about criticism he received from The Washington Post.

Those who think they can teach ethics, like Calderone, expose themselves to be the biggest phonies of all.

He stirs up things on Twitter and then writes an article saying it's a Twitter topic.

Not since 2008 when Melissa Harris Parry presented herself as a professor and an observer of the campaigns has anyone lied so often to the press.  (Parry began working for the Barack Obama campaign in 2007.  We documented this in repeat articles on Lie Face in real time as she took to various programs as a professor -- or worse, as a journalist -- and would be allowed to sit with objective observers and offers 'analysis.')

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