Posts from February 10, 2005

Charles and Camilla

finger3.jpgfinger4.jpgCharles and Camilla

: I have one thing to say:

Thank goodness we do not have tax-supported celebrities.

They’re just celebrities as insipid as celebrities anywhere. But at least we don’t pay for their obnoxious lives.

God bless our founding fathers.

: UPDATE: Ha says in the comments that if you follow that link, you will see the photos above on the same page, prompting the question: “It is hard to believe that these two women live on the same planet.”

‘Gannon’ speaks

‘Gannon’ speaks

: Wolf Blitzer interviews fakey White House ‘correspondent’ ‘Jeff Gannon’ just now.

Howard Kurtz plays a tape of Gannon asking his softball — and innaccurate — question of Bush (and attack on Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton). Kos gets credit for finding Gannon’s real name and story. Rep. Slaughter is quoted asking whether the White House let him in as a tool of the administration and the White House denies. Kurtz says some say bloggers went too far digging into his background. Cut to Wolf.

Wolf asks him to explain the name thing. “It’s a professional name. I used it because Jeff Gannon is easier to pronounce.” Who does he think he is, Cher?

If you didn’t do anything wrong, why did you resign? He says people have harrassed and threatened him and his family. He says people have followed him to church (nice touch).

Wolf asks about the sexually explicit websites he was working on. “I don’t understand what that is,” says Wolf. Gannon says he did it for a client and the sites never went up.

Wolf asks whether he was there to ask softball questions or whether he was there “as a real journalist.” Gannon says Talon is a real news service. “I created the questions, nobody fed the questions to me.” It’s not as if anyone would have to write them for him.

Nothing about the other things Gannon did at the White House or his relationship with others, besides the owner of his ‘news service,’ Bobby Eberle.

Softball to the softball player, I’d say.

Now maybe they will do the softball interview with Eason Jordan.

The self-correcting medium

The self-correcting medium

: Citizens’ media both spreads rumors and debunks them. Citizens’ media also forces mainstream media to cover stories it may not otherwise cover. There’s an example of all this in Baltimore after online postings alleging that the mayor, Martin O’Malley, had an affair.

Another person posting about the topic was revealed this week to be Joseph Steffen, a longtime political operative for O’Malley’s political rival, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

That story, and Steffen’s resignation, broke in the mainstream media. But it highlights how Web sites – with their freewheeling rumors and rants – increasingly are forcing more traditional news institutions to write articles that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day.

Rumors of O’Malley’s alleged infidelity have long circulated in Baltimore but were not printed in such daily newspapers as The Sun or The Washington Post. It took postings on the Free Republic site, based in Fresno, Calif., to bring that gossip into the local papers of public record, as part of the story of a state official’s resignation for helping to spread such chatter….

The Web site’s treatment of the O’Malley rumor and the 60 Minutes report underscores the dual nature of this new form of communication, which traffics in unsubstantiated rumors but can also serve as a check on the mainstream media.

See also Jeff Gannon. See also Eason Jordan.

Exploding TV: The fuse it lit

Exploding TV: The fuse it lit

: The Online Publishers Association finds growing demand for video online. Says Digital Deliverance:

Its study of 27,841 Internet users on 25 of its members sites found that watching video online is becoming increasingly popular and that news videos were the most popular form of that content.

Twenty seven percent of those users view online video at least once per week and five percent of them view it daily. A majority of users (51 percent) watch video online at least once per month.

Perhaps because worktime is for work, online video viewers were more likely to watch from home than work: 35 percent said they frequently watch online video from home and only 16 percent said they did so from work.

Follow this money

Follow this money

: Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham — two of the smartest and most generous (with wisdom that is) men I’ve met in this new world — have officially launched their new VC fund: Union Square Ventures “dedicated to making early stage investments in technology enabled service businesses that are disrupting markets, particularly the marketing, media, financial services, and telcomm markets.” And there’s plenty of disrupting going on.

: UPDATE: Now this is a show worth watching: Fred Wilson fisks Jason Calacanis…. And Jason responds.

The Angry Party

The Angry Party

: When Howard Dean was running for President, I said that his real goals were not just to take over the White House but also to take over the Democratic Party with his army of young turks and the power of citizens’ media and the lure of. Well, he failed at the first, but he’s about to succeed at the second.

When Dean is elected by acclamation as the new head of the Democratic National Committee, I won’t be one of the Democrats jumping with apparent joy. Yes, I’ve made cracks about the wisdom of choosing a loser to head the party. And, no, I did not support Dean as a presidential candidate. And, sure, I’ll be delighted to see him try to shake up the power structure of campaign fundraising with his army of young turks and aggregated fortune in $25 contributions and experience in using the tools of citizens’ media to change the world. None of that is my problem.

My fear is that the takeover by Dean and the Deaniacs cements our unfortunate position as The Angry Party.

It’s not just that Dean was the angry candidate — which, I said then, was my biggest problem with him as a candidate — and that the Deaniacs were the angry young people. It’s that the left has turned into the mad side. Our states shouldn’t be painted in cool blue but in fiery red.

When I read blogs from the left or read comments here and elsewhere from that side (and remember that I manage to piss off both sides and so I have a basis of comparison), I hear a predominance of two tones when there is disagreement: the rage of a rabid dog or the moan of a resigned Eeyore. The blogs and commenters from the right — who, lord knows, can be just as venemous — sound, nonetheless, a bit calmer, more in control, more mature, even. Oddly, I don’t see the exact same pattern in TV punditry: The O’Reilly’s are still spitting angry. And perhaps the left is still trying to emulate that under the theory that, hey, it worked for the other side: It got them elected.

But there are three problems with this:

First, we set ourselves up as the party in permanent opposition: Our role is to be angry with the guys in power rather than saying what we’d do if when are in in power.

And that leads to the second problem: We’re against more than we’re for. Iraq: Nothing good ever happens. (See Tom Friedman — a Democrat of my ilk — this morning on four things in Iraq Democrats should be excited about). Social Security: Some even say there’s no problem and nothing to do. These are both problems that need fixes; we’ve already heard the complaints. That’s not a way to win elections.

Then there’s the third problem: It’s no fun hanging out with angry people. I’m sick of certain people people saying I’m not their kind of Democrat; when did we become the party of exclusion? During the recent kerfluffle between Kos and Zephyr Teachout, we were reminded of the bile of the Deaniacs. This is why they didn’t win Iowa; it wasn’t the hats, folks, it was the fangs. People who are constantly mad (see: Alterman) and politics is about making friends.

Finally, here’s the fourth problem: It’s about winning the next election. See today’s USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll: Hillary Clinton is leading the polls (40 percent v. 25 for Kerry — God forbid — and 17 for Edwards). And on the other side, Rudy’s No. 1 wth 34 percent and McCkain’s second with 29 percent. This is going to be an election won at the center — I hope — and so the last thing the Democrats should be today is The Angry Party.

Let’s hope that Dr. Dean prescribes himself and our party a few tranqs.

The October surprise … five months late

The October surprise … five months late

: There are two scandals in today’s NY Times story on just-declassified portions of the 9/11 Commission report that detail the many specific warnings about al Qaeda the FAA received:

The first is the dangerous incompetence of the FAA and of airport security in the months leading up to September 11th.

The second is that this was not released before the election. That feels, sounds, tastes, and smells like election fraud.

During the commission hearings and when its report was released, based on what we were told, I was one of those who said the blame for not stopping the attacks could not fall on one administration, neither Clinton nor Bush. But now we are told this:

The report discloses that the Federal Aviation Administration, despite being focused on risks of hijackings overseas, warned airports in the spring of 2001 that if “the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable.”

The report takes the F.A.A. to task for failing to pursue domestic security measures that could conceivably have altered the events of Sept. 11, 2001, like toughening airport screening procedures for weapons or expanding the use of on-flight air marshals. The report, completed last August, said officials appeared more concerned with reducing airline congestion, lessening delays, and easing airlines’ financial woes than deterring a terrorist attack.

The Bush administration has blocked the public release of the full, classified version of the report for more than five months, officials said, much to the frustration of former commission members who say it provides a critical understanding of the failures of the civil aviation system. The administration provided both the classified report and a declassified, 120-page version to the National Archives two weeks ago and, even with heavy redactions in some areas, the declassified version provides the firmest evidence to date about the warnings that aviation officials received concerning the threat of an attack on airliners and the failure to take steps to deter it.

Among other things, the report says that leaders of the F.A.A. received 52 intelligence reports from their security branch that mentioned Mr. bin Laden or Al Qaeda from April to Sept. 10, 2001. That represented half of all the intelligence summaries in that time.

Five of the intelligence reports specifically mentioned Al Qaeda’s training or capability to conduct hijackings, the report said. Two mentioned suicide operations, although not connected to aviation, the report said….

The F.A.A. did not see a need to increase the air marshal ranks because hijackings were seen as an overseas threat, and one aviation official told the commission said that airlines did not want to give up revenues by providing free seats to marshals.

The F.A.A. also made no concerted effort to expand their list of terror suspects, which included a dozen names on Sept. 11, the report said. The former head of the F.A.A.’s civil aviation security branch said he was not aware of the government’s main watch list, called Tipoff, which included the names of two hijackers who were living in the San Diego area, the report said.

Nor was there evidence that a senior F.A.A. working group on security had ever met in 2001 to discuss “the high threat period that summer,” the report said.

Now we must know who decided to classify this material and keep it from the nation before the election. Who and why?

Wiki this

Wiki this

: In a nice feature on Jimmy Wales and Wikinews, there’s this incredible bit from the clearly bitter former editor in chief of Encyclopedia Brittanica.

“Making a newspaper is hard,” said Robert McHenry, former editor in chief of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Someone who wants to do it but doesn’t really know how hasn’t solved the problem by gathering a lot of other people who don’t know, either.”

Mr. McHenry was skeptical about Wikinews’s ability to provide a neutral point of view and its claim to be evenhanded. “The na