Saturday, May 17, 2003

American media has now come full circle.

The top banner ad at the Drudge Report is for a "50 percent off" sale on subscriptions to The New York Times. (The ad alternates with a separate ad for "Axis of Weasel" playing cards.) It's hard to even begin to process the implications of this.

Times' columnist Frank Rich, in a Dec. 4, 1999 column written after the Fox News Channel cancelled a short-lived Drudge talk show, had this to say about the Internet news pioneer:

Journalistic watchdogs should be overjoyed at their nemesis' ignominious exit from the tube. We should be thrilled that he no longer has the power to terrorize the nation's news cycles with his apocalyptic bulletins. But the decline in Mr. Drudge's stature is in some ways a barometer of permanent changes in the media culture that may make us look back on his brief reign as national press mascot as a relatively innocent time. Mr. Drudge was in power long enough to change the mainstream press for keeps -- and not for the better. But some of his downfall is due to rapid changes in the press that he didn't see coming, that affect all journalists and news consumers -- and of which he is as much an impotent victim as the rest of us.

Now, when the Times is on a mission to rehabilitate its image amid the Jayson Blair scandal and protect its subscriber base, where does it turn? To a man who "terroize(s) the nation's news cycles with his apocalyptic bulletins."

To repeat: It's hard to even begin to process the implications of this.

This is a news story of interest about the new police term for suspect: "Person of interest." Score another point for lawyers, who set about forcing society to change the way it speaks.

Friday, May 16, 2003

The Kingston (N.Y.) Daily Freeman has this piece on Kingston city officials complaining about the accuracy of a 2001 Jayson Blair story that profiled how the city was adapting to economic difficulties.

Forget all the affirmative action arguments. They don't apply here. Forget all the stories about inside politics at The Times. This isn't about inside baseball.

By all appearances, Jayson Blair was a lazy reporter who tried to look busy while actually cutting corners and laying back. If you read Blair's Kingston story, you'll see it looks like it came from court papers and two or three phone calls. Anyone who knows the city of Kingston knows the rich, fascinating story it is - a story that's impossible to develop through court papers and twenty minutes of phone work. A two-hour drive from Times Square, a few hours of talking to people, and a two-hour drive back would have done wonders for the story.

Like Stephen Glass, it seems like Blair spent more time and effort covering his tracks than doing his job. If you work in a warehouse stocking shelves, you can get away with that. If you work for one of the most prominent news organizations in the world, it catches up to you.

Michele at A Small Victory is writing about her memories of television as a child: The 4:30 movie and Chiller Theater to be specific.
The Chiller Theater opening credits prevented me from sleeping as a child from age six to age 12.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

They buried former Sen. Russell Long yesterday. He once said this:

I really think that it's better to retire, in Uncle Earl's terms, when you still have some snap left in your garters.

No word on whether this guy put little smiley faces on his emails.
Howard Dean, who has been described as needing to win the New Hampshire primary next year to remain a viable presidential candidate, is now making a move for Iowa - the state that offers the first-in-the-nation caucuses right before the New Hampshire primary.

Dean has hired Iowa U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin's press secretary.

Andrew Sullivan is quoting a speech yesterday by Margaret Thatcher:

"There are too many people who imagine that there is something sophisticated about always believing the best of those who hate your country, and the worst of those who defend it."

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer has announced a Special Fun Indictment against the "Buffalo Spammer:"

Carmack is facing numerous charges, including Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D felony, Criminal Possession of a Forgery Device, a class D felony, two counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, and two counts of Identity Theft in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor. If convicted on the top Forgery charge, Carmack faces a maximum of 3½ to 7 years in prison. The defendant entered not guilty pleas before Buffalo City Court Judge Diane Devlin. Bail was set at $20,000.

His photograph is not yet available on the wires, so we do not yet know what this, uh, person looks like.

A judge has ordered the MTA in New York to roll back a fare increase for buses, subways, the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North trains.

I'm not sure if it would work on buses and subways, but as far as Metro North and the LIRR are concerned, the MTA should think about enhancements to its service, such as "hot spot" trains with wireless Internet access. (Charge extra for the train ticket, and a monthly fee for the service.) Anyway, that would be more respectable than putting video slot machines on the trains.

Just a thought.

Any ladies who are in the market for a mate, might want to check out A Small Victory.

A former Times veteran and U.N. bureau chief, Barbara Crossette, has some thoughts stemming from the Blair controversy that are worth reading, and they're posted over at

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Remember Opie & Anthony - the New York-based, syndicated radio hosts who were fired after a raunchy, on-air contest went awry at St. Patrick's Cathedral last year? Well, they suggest there are "separation of church and state" issues in criminal cases brought against show participants.

Instapundit drew my attention to this story about the discovery of one of the largest mass graves ever found in Iraq:

Among the remains are thought to be the bodies of political prisoners killed after a Shia Muslim uprising against Saddam in 1991 but also entire families...Human rights groups believe that up to 200,000 people may be buried in sites across the country.

We now return to our regularly scheduled criticism of President Bush's speech on an aircraft carrier.

John Ellis notes this about New York City's current fiscal crisis:

Over the course of the last decade, New York City has added not one private sector job and nearly 100,000 public sector jobs. There's a tipping point for most everything and New York City is in danger of tipping over.
Paging Bill Bennett...

Gov. Pataki has signed on to a gambling deal that could have Mohawk-run craps tables taking action by the end of the year.

I took my wife to a diner for Mother's Day. She didn't wear a hat.

Write fake news stories. Get thrown out of the industry. Write a book. Get your friends to buy it.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Dr. Germ won't be practicing her brand of medicine again.

But other events of the day (bombings in Riyadh and Chechnya), probably mean two things:

1) The bad guys are having a tough time getting their act together inside the U.S., to set off their bombs here;
2) It reiterates for the White House the need to keep the pressure on in every respect - financial, military, diplomatic, judicial, intelligence - to make the bad guys even more of an endangered species than the spotted Herron.

As far as Dr. Germ and the others, I don't think many in the U.S. would object if, instead of telling the Coalition where all the WMD are, we turn them over to the Kurds and Shi'ites, so they can tell it to them.

The Baton Rouge serial killer investigation has frustrated a number of residents in the area, who, according to the Times-Pacayune, have provided police with some new information. The T-P's coverage of the case is heating up, with this story from Saturday.

Ugh. Parents at a Long Island school district are up in arms that their teen-age sons have been disciplined for going to a strip club while on a Florida road trip. At the bottom of the story, it's noted the kids and their parents have an "appeals process." Ugh.
Andrew Sullivan's followup on the Jayson Blair scandal is more provacative than yesterday's take. Meanwhile, William Safire talks about conservatives, Schadenfreude and Jayson Blair. If no other major problems are found with Blair (or anyone else at The Times), this story may just cycle out after today.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

The Jayson Blair scandal at the New York Times rages on, and Andrew Sullivan has this take:

And the reckoning still may not be complete. I'd say it's the biggest blow to the credibility of newspaper journalism since the Janet Cooke affair. But will anyone apart from Blair be held responsible?

In the end, all reporters and editors are held responsible, and the newspaper of record seems to acknowledge that. In a separate "Editor's Note" alongside its painful coverage of l'affaire Blair, The Times says:

The Times apologizes to its readers in the first instance, and to those who have figured in improper coverage. It apologizes, too, to those whose work was purloined and to all conscientious journalists whose professional trust has been betrayed by this episode.(Emphasis added)