Posts from April 2004

The Kerry plan

The Kerry plan
: I’ve been begging for a Kerry plan for Iraq. Today, he presents it.

This anniversary is not a time to shout. It is not a time for blame. It is a time for a new direction in Iraq and for America to work together so that once again this nation leads in a way that brings the world to us and with us in our efforts….

This moment in Iraq is a moment of truth. Not just for this administration, the country, the Iraqi people, but for the world. This may be our last chance to get this right. We need to put pride aside to build a stable Iraq….

The campaign press release summarizes his three-point plan:

First, Kerry said that NATO is now a global security organization and creating a stable and secure environment in Iraq must be one of its global missions.

Airport security

Airport security
: You wanna see airport security? Try flying out of Baghdad International. Here’s Abu Hadi’s report.

Doth protest

Doth protest
Simon Dumenco, erudite media critic, comes off a bit uppity in Patrick Phillips’ interview with him on the relaunch of Benneton’s Colors mag.

Dumenco bristles at the mention of Colors being the product of custom publishing. Rex Hammock, custom publishing magnate, takes him to task for that.

Dumenco also belittles most blogs — “With a very few exceptions, blogs are generally overrated” — though he adds that they “do make a difference.”

He belittles even the Internet: “With the arguable exception of certain porn stars — and Paris Hilton — the Web has created very little original media value with long-term traction.”

Well, the magazine better be damned good, eh?

The Daily Stern

sterncover2.jpg

The Daily Stern

: COVER BOY: My cover story at The Nation about the FCC, the First Amendment, and Howard Stern is online. The conclusion:

Stern shies away from no sacred cow. He is a positive force in American media. Just as weblogs tweak big media to keep them honest, Stern pushes the line to keep politicians and celebrities and his audience honest. So I like to listen to him. If you don’t, fine. Listen to something else. I won’t stop you. Just don’t stop me.

And there’s the real question: If the government is going to regulate speech, where’s the line and who’s going to draw it? Is it at the least-common-denominator that makes all media safe for 5-year-olds? Is it at the church door that makes all media safe for church ladies? Is it at my car door so I can still listen to Stern? Is the line going to be drawn just on broadcast or will it extend to cable and satellite–and the Internet? Will the censored be just shock jocks–or newsmakers or bloggers?

I couldn’t say it better than Michael Powell–the old, freedom-loving Michael Powell–did in 1999 when he accepted the Freedom of Speech Award (which one assumes is now hanging in his bathroom): “I have gained a deep and profound respect for the wisdom of having an unwavering principle that stands at the summit of the Constitution, and holds: ‘Government shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.’… Benevolent or not, we did not sign away to a Philosopher-King the responsibility to determine for us, like a caring parent, what messages we should and should not hear.”

So to the barricades, edgy elite! This is not just about Howard Stern. It’s not just about Bono or The Breast. It’s about our First Amendment. It’s about our freedom of speech. It’s about us.

(Unfortunately, the online version doesn’t include links — including a link to this blog.)

: THE STERN BLOG: On the air this morning, Howard said he blogs under a secret identity (he used to chat in hiding, too).

Choire Sicha at Gawker begs for any clues to find Howard’s blog.

Allah thinks it’s me. Well, we’re both about 50, over 6’4″, formerly geeky, and hate the FCC.

: MORE STERN BLOGGING: Choire also sends me a note from a woman who says she was a Stern intern and reports:

While working as an intern for the Stern show last summer, Howard had one of the other interns call from the green room, pretending to be a listener wanting to know what blogging was. Howard answered the question, and then moved on…it was quite bizarre.

As I remember, that’s when Howard said he read Gawker. It’s just a closed loop, our little world.

: TOO DAMNED MUCH DECENCY: Greg Beato says that the cure to indecency is far worse than the disease:

At some point you have to ask: How much decency is too much? A small dose of Tesh is like aural Prozac. His soothing baritone refreshes; his sunny optimism uplifts; his easygoing rectitude inspires. But the John Tesh Radio Show goes on for a full five hours!…

What

Koppel, the sequel

Koppel, the sequel
: Below, I came out of an internal debate deciding I didn’t like Ted Koppel turning the names and images of U.S. soldiers in Iraq into a gimmick. Sinclair TV agrees; they’re preempting the show.

“Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq,” the company said in a faxed statement. Sinclair, which owns 62 U.S. television stations, said ABC is disguising political statements as news content.

Though I agree with Sinclair’s view of the stunt, I don’t agree with Sinclair’s action. Better to let Koppel do what he wants to do but also to insert the company’s statement before and after the show — and let the audience decide.

Decentralize

Decentralize
: Google is getting flack, and well it should, for killing ads from a T-shirt company that actually tries to say something on its shirts. Its policy forbids “advertisements for language and site content that advocates against an individual, group, or organization.” In short: Saying something.

How much better it would be if Google would allow any ad but allow any site to refuse any ad. Put the power in the hands of the players and stand back. Decentralize. That’s the moral of the age. Decentralize.

Blog event

Blog event
: If you’re around New York on Monday, make sure you come to the oh-so-hip Apple store for an entertainment event. I’ll be playing referee between Denton and Calacanis. That’s just one of the three rings in this circus. Details here.

American Idolette

American Idolette
: Wonkette, Ana Marie Cox, is on TV… sort of. She’s interviewed for a Washington Post online video thing. Imagine what some production value would bring. She’ll be rich and able to provide a decent home for her dog.