Posts from July 2003


: Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian, gave a wise keynote at the media confab (below), which I won’t do the disservice of summarizing in a paragraph post.

He also acknowledged discussion about starting an American Guardian.

He said they were inspired by the two million Americans a month who read The Guardian online. He said it’s still just a dream and they’re not even sure whether it would be daily, weekly, or monthly.

The other war

The other war
: Forgot to mention earlier that Tom Rogers, former head of Primedia, told me that he was asked by Mayor Bloomberg to mediate the fight between the Yankees’ YES network and Cablevision. Now that’s a war.

(I side with Cablevision on this one. They don’t want to give it to everybody and charge everybody. I don’t watch baseball and so I don’t want to pay a penny for the channel.)

Alterman agonistes

Alterman agonistes
: So I ran into Eric Alterman at the New York Mag/Guardian media/war confab (overblogged, below).

I thought it was a friendly how-do-you-do during the coffee break: Good to see you, Eric.

Eric thought otherwise and took out after me. He said he almost responded to my “attack” on him (here and here) regarding his stance on attacks on Jews in France.

To recap: He said that the attacks were coming from Muslim immigrants angered by the occupation of Palestine. I said that by seeing a motive other than hate he is ascribing a justification to anti-Semitism and that is a moral mistake.

We went back and forth for a few minutes. He said he was trying to learn and understand the reasons behind these acts. I said he was giving a hate crime credit for rationality it does not deserve. He made some metaphor about learning the behavior of mosquitoes so he can avoid them. I tried to make a joke that he just saw me as a pest now. He was not to be amused, not to be trifled with.

A TV crew was getting ready to interview him and had its camera turned pointed in our direction. Alterman pushed the microphone away and snapped, “I’m not talking to you.”

He turned to me and said, “Your attack is unfair.” Then je walked away.

I want to emphasize that we had a perfectly friendly conversation later. That’s not my point.

What’s interesting here is what happens when bloggers meet after having a disagreement onine. So we had a public disagreement. Happens. But that apparently festered in private. Well, I say the better thing to do is to continue the discussion in public until you work it out (unlikely) or tire out. I wish Eric had responded, in public and in kind; that’s oddly easier to deal with than a private spat.

You talk to my blog, you talk to me. Talk to me, talk to my blog.

Media last

Media last
: Just a few last notes from the media confab.

: Adrian Van Klaveren, head of newsgathering for the BBC, says regarding the Kelly affair, “The BBC is confident that our position will be vindicated.” Surprise, surprise. He has the sputtering demeanor of an embattled Washington aide.

: There a dust-up over a BBC film about the rescue of Jessica Lynch. The BBC reporter, John Kampfner, says he stands by the report. Members of the audience take him to task.

: The BBC is acting like the cocky powerful clique in its last days in power but unaware that the click is ticking.

: Sidney Blumenthal insists that many members of the Bush White House, partidularly Chaney, are secretly rooting for Tony Blair to be kicked out.

: Eric Alterman asks an irksome question at the end: “We can all agree that truth is very important. But the American people don’t care about truth. They care more about results.” A lady in the audience gashs about shouts: “Not true.” Amen, lady. If your own audience doesn’t care about the truth, why write for them, Eric. That’s essentially insulting to the entire damned nation. And it’s wrong.

Media more

Media more
: More bits from the media and war confab:

: Discussion of embed fashion: The BBC’s Gavin Hewitt said that apart from wearing the chemical suit, when ordered, he made sure to wear civvies.

“The truth is, some of the embeds really enjoyed the dressing up,” said ABC’s John Donovan.

Blogger Eric Alterman calls out from the audience: “So did the president.”

: Michael Wolff tries, as usual, to see the sinister intent of the military in providing khakis.

ABC’s LeRoy Sievers: “John was a White House correspondent. He dressed like the president: Dark suit, white shirt. Nobody said, ‘John is trying to act like the President.'”

: Jonathan Foreman of the NY Post says the Iraqis did not need embedded reporters because the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan (who said the Americans were not in Baghad when they were) “was doing the job for them.”

: Wolff tries to say that embedded reporters weren’t experienced at war. The reporters jumped down his throat. LeRoy Sievers of ABC said the reporters had more experience in war than the soldiers.

: Foreman complains that reporters were getting excited and calling one shot a “heavy bombardment.” Sievers says “that happens every day on many stoies.”

: Rick Leventhal of FoxNews: “I would never go unilateral (that is, not embedded) in a war. You guys are nuts.”


It’s all our fault

It’s all our fault
: Kaveh points us to a provocative Usenet post on Iranians blaming America written by an Iranian expat in America answering an Iranian complaining about us:

Let me ask you something. . .have you bothered looking into the collective soul of Iranians as a people?

Is it the United States who is responsible for Tehran’s 8 million

drivers who can’t seem to extend common courtesy to each other respect

right of way driving in between lanes, or stop at a red lights?…

Is it the United States fault that Iranian women who are beaten by

their husbands and ask for a divorce have to leave their child with

the bastard who was beating them?! And speaking of that do you know

how many Iranian men are abusive to their wives?

Were those Americans who were riding motor cycles in the streets last

month beating students with chains?…

People like you don’t want to address what is wrong with us Iranians

as a nation. You want to say it’s all America’s fault or it’s all the

Arabs fault. . .I have news for you: Iranians have been screwing other

Iranians longer than any other nation has screwed Iran. Five Hundred

years after there were no more Arabs ruling Iran, Iranians were

screwing their fellow countrymen over.

In the last 100 years Iranians screwed Iranians.

I know. . .I know. . .your going to say that the Mossadegh Coup was

all America’s fault. . .well let me tell you, America sent a single

American (Kermit Roosevelt. . .grandson of the former president) to

Iran with a bag filled with 1 million dollars to start that Coup, but

the people who accepted the money, and ran in the streets and beat

Mossadegh’s people were Iranian not Americans. If you came to

downtown New York with a truck full of money (a billion), and asked

people to betray America, you would get your ass beat by the first

poor Puerto Rican from the Bronx, but a million dollars was enough for

Iranians to sell their own country down the drain.

Who is the monster?. . .the American who showed up with a million or

the Iranians who accepted the money and changed sides at the drop of a


Iranians are the biggest roadblock to the welfare of fellow Iranians

in Iran. Not Arabs, not Americans not Aliens from Mars!…

Media at war

Media at war
: A few notes from the start of the NY Mag/Guardian media/war confab:

: Gossip first: I introduce James Truman of Conde Nast to Nick Denton of Gawker.

“We stalk you,” Nick says.

“Well, stop,” James said.

A moment of British irony.

: The session starts with an agenda-dripping intro from a provost of the New School: “I have never been more concern and indeed angry about where the republic is headed today.” That set the course.

: Michael Wolff, the media columnist from New York, keeps trying to put the media right in the middle of the war, to make the media the story. That is, after all, the meat of a media critic.

“Was the war staged for our benefit?” he asks. “To what extend is war a staged event, a media event?”

That could be cosmic question: Is war the message?

But that’s not where he headed. He was counting column-inches.

: Paul Steiger, ME of the Wall Street Journal, was impressively level-headed and smart about all this.

“Sometimes we think over-much that it’s about us,” he said. “There is a tendance to overplay our role.”

: Much discussion of the Palestine Hotel shelling with an undercurrant — never said aloud — that journalists were targeted.

David Chater, a correspondent for SkyNews, gave this balance. He said that day, he saw the fiercest firefight he’d ever seen. “It’s extaordinary,” he said, “that they showed such restraint… I think it’s understandable that this happened.”

Much discussion also of the bombing of the Al-Jazeera offices that day, which Chater said was a bigger story.

Al-Jazeera D.C. correspondent Hafez Al-Mirazi said he did believe that the offices were targeted — not for killing but to get them off the air. He said it’s not just chance that they were hit. “Some people in our office are saying we should start buying lottery tickets if the odds are that much in our favor.”

: Reuters Middle East editor Barry Moody argues: “If there hand’t been journalists in Baghdad the possibility of civilian casualties would have been much higher.”

What a load. He’s saying that if there were not media witnesses, the U.S. would have gone on a killing spree. Crap.

: Chris Albritton, who raised money to go to Iraq for his blog, Back to Iraq, was there.

: Tom Rogers, former head of Primedia, owner of New York, came to the conference. He was ousted in a big change of strategy by KKR (that is: they want to sell off much of the empire). He showed loyalty to his former employees to come.


: I don’t speak French worth a damn, but I can tell from this lead in le Monde under the headline “New York City Blues” that there’ll be fun in this story (over to you, multilinqualists): “Crise financi