Posts from March 25, 2004

Jeesh

Jeesh
: I happen to have today’s Rumsfeld briefing on and the questions are particularly dumb today.

One guy asks how many terrorists are there who want to attack the U.S. Well, how the hell could he know? Hold still, Osama, it’s time for the annual American-hating terrorist census.

And then another reporter gets all PC asking whether it was in poor taste for the President to joke about trying to find WMDs at last night’s radio and TV correspondents’ dinner — and Rumsfeld wasn’t even at the dinner and didn’t tell the joke or laugh at it. Oy. Spare me a world in which the secretary of defense has to pass a daily PC cuddly test.

The apology

The apology
: Something’s not resting well with Richard Clarke’s apology for September 11. He said before the commission and families of victims yesterday:

i also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11, to them who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television.

Your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn’t matter, because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness.

This assumes that government absolutely could have stopped the attack — and failed. Oh, I wish we could be guaranteed that government absolutely could stop these things but I’ve seen no proof or assurance of that.

He’s practically treating government the way a fundamentalist treats God: an omnipotent being who could and would intervene and fix this if he wanted to. So he’s turning government into a bad god — is that thus a devil? — who could have stopped these attacks but didn’t; it failed.

It may seem like he’s quite the mensch by including himself in this apology: “I failed.” But he’s throwing himself on his rhetorical sword so he can accuse the government — the administration — of failing and thus, by its sins of omission and negligence, of practically being complicit in the deaths. I find that offensive; As I said yesterday, it plays into the politicization of 9/11; it makes this about us vs. us instead of us vs. them.

When I first heard Clarke’s apology and the start of his testimony, I thought there might be something to listen to here. I haven’t said much about Clarke because I haven’t yet decided what I think of what he’s saying. But I have to say that as his apology sat on the stomach like a bad burrito and came up this morning like a burp, I came to think that his apology was disingenous, melodramatic, and ultimately divisive.

:UPDATES

: David Schuler has more to say on the apology, including this: “There is so much room for the assignment of blame that the very act of attempting to assign blame is frivolous.”

: Rex Hammock is mad:

Okay, Mr. Clarke. The government that failed those families has now dedicated billions of dollars and hundreds of lives of its courageous military to stamp out those who threaten our shores. In all theaters of battle, young American soldiers and sailors have printed the the words, “We shall never forget” on weapons, vehicles and military aircraft in honor of those who died on 9/11.

Mr. Clarke, what similar level of resitution have you displayed for your failure other than an attempt to cash in on that tragedy with your book promotion? And now, on the graves of those victims, you grandstand an apology to promote its marketing efforts.

So therefore, Mr. Clarke, I suggest you do this: Announce today that ALL PROCEEDS of the book (not just a portion of the profits, but ALL PROCEEDS) will go to one of the funds that have been set up for the families of the victims…or another specific charity that will help give meaning to your disingenous apology.

: EVENING UPDATE: Scott Rosenberg responds to the apology:

But just reading those words in newspaper reports made me think that the words of the former head of counterterrorism will go down as one of those defining moments in American public life, like the Army-McCarthy hearings’ “Have you no decency, sir, at long last” or the Watergate hearings’ “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Because Clarke’s words exposed a deep emotional vacuum in the Bush administration’s handling of 9/11. Bush and his team won widespread acclaim for their bullhorn-toting, Bible-waving, smart-bomb-dropping reaction to the terror attacks. And each of those responses had its place, accomplished something in the long process of coming to terms with the death and destruction of that day. But the Bush approach, with its macho swagger punctuated by interludes of lower-lip-biting moments of silence for our collective loss, has never fully satisfied the national psyche.

Oh, fercrhissake, this is not about feelings! This is about life and death! This is about finding bad guys and killing them before they kill us. Enough with apologies and emotions and psyches. This is war. Let’s go win it.

Condemn what?

Condemn what?
: Will the U.N. also condemn the Palestinians sending a 14-year-old boy to Israel as a suicide bomber?

The Daily Bob

The Daily Bob
: Heh.

There’s now a Save Bob Edwards site. [via Wonkette]

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: THE BOSS: Viacom chief and long-time Howard booster Mel Karmazin defends Stern to the Wall Street Journal:

“You know, I think he has been a target,” Karmazin continued. “If you think about what happened, it was that Janet Jackson happened. I get subpoenaed. They now talk about radio as well as that. Another company canceled Howard’s show for no reason other than that they were going to Washington to testify and just didn’t seem to have the courage to stand up for programming that they aired. And we absolutely stand up for what Howard is doing.”

: SATELLITE ECONOMICS: The LA Times comes a bit late to the Stern-impact-on-satellite story and finds an XM exec negotiating in public, poormouthing about how they can’t afford Stern:

Hugh Panero, XM Satellite’s chief executive, pooh-poohed the possibility, saying he doubted whether XM or Sirius could afford the reported $20 million Stern pulls down a year through his contract with Viacom Inc.’s Infinity Broadcasting.

They might be able to come up with that kind of dough soon, though: XM’s and Sirius’ stocks are trading near 52-week highs as the number of subscribers and satellite-capable radios keeps increasing.

Don’t believe the XM guy; he has an audience of one — Stern’s agent — in mind.

Let’s look at the numbers:

I saw a number recently that said that Stern brings in $100 million in radio.

If he went to satellite, let’s say he took a quarter of his 8-million-plus listeners with him.

So let’s say that 2 million new subscribers come in — doubling the current total satellite radio customer base — and that they each pay $10 per month (more for Sirius). That would be $240 million per year. And they would have produced that growth without marketing and subscriber-acquisition costs; Stern will have done that for them.

So even if you cut that in half and it’s still more than Stern reportedly produces now.

And it builds the industry. The impact on the stock would be monumental.

And that means that the satellite company could pay Stern in great measure in stock and options.

Oh, they can afford him… if they can build radios fast enough (which, Stern says, is an issue).

The numbers surprised me. His impact could be huge.

Meanwhile, see the AdAge story I quoted yesterday: Broadcast radio will get safer and older and smaller. Satellite will then grow even bigger. And the stock will rise more.

I’m not selling my Sirius stock yet.

MediaDrop‘s Tom (and my colleague Peter Hauck) wonder about whether Stern could also offer his show to both satellite companies. That could work, though then neither would have an exclusive edge and neither would give him equity.

: MORE ON THE BANDWAGON: Sun-Times columnist and movie critic Richard Roeper comes out for Stern and against the FCC.

: FAME: Choire Sicha is doing radio interview on Stern. OK, I’m jealous.

[Confidential to producers: I'm available for opinions and sound bites.]

: ATTORNEY TO THE STARS: HowardStern.com is linking to Ernie Miller‘s great pieces on the FCC’s insane decisions.

: THE RIGHT TO READ: I had an email conversation with Ernie asking about the rights of the audience in all this and what standing we have in the cases that are sure to follow:

> Do we have a right to listen (which Ernie said is called the “right to read” in legal discussion): That is, can we argue that our First Amendment rights have been violated if the FCC successfully stifles political speech (no matter how it gets there)?

> Do we have a right to a spokesman? If a person speaks for us and he is silenced, does that violate our rights and give us standing?

> Do we have a right to be free of the fear that the government will fine us if we say something that, under its vague regulation, is deemed indecent or profane while we are, say, being interviewed by a radio reporter or yelling something at a broadcast concert or sporting event or calling into a talk-radio show?

It’s doubtful that we could file suit against the FCC but we can file friend-of-the-court briefs once suits are filed. And as Ernie said, free speech is a matter of distribution: There’s a sender and a receiver and when the rights of one are affected, so are the rights of the other.

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