Posts from May 2003

All the news that’s fit to print about all the news that’s fit to print

All the news that’s fit to print about all the news that’s fit to print
: Having someone else do your reporting for you — which is how Rick Bragg wrote a story from a Florida town without spending much time there — is hardly a new or scandalous behavior in the news biz.

Every reporter you see on TV has a producer doing legwork aplenty — and often even conducting the interviews (with the TV star edited in later).

The newsmagazines have armies of correspondents getting the facts for the stories written in New York (and whenever an editor wants to know something that’s not there, they put a blank in the story — a “TK” — that is filled in by a researcher).

What Rick Bragg did was no cause for suspension or the sliming of his career. Says Bragg: “Those things are common at the paper. Most national correspondents will tell you they rely on stringers and researchers and interns and clerks and news assistants.” And not just at the Times but everywhere in the business.

: If there’s justice or taste in the publishing business (you’re welcome for the straight line) no one will buy the book written by stinking liar Jayson Blair. It will have absolutely no credibility. But Times-haters will buy it and quote it and so someone will publish it.

Read Howard Kurtz’ weekend story about the book proposal to see just how far up the ass a human head can go.

Blair says of Malvo, the alleged triggerman in some of the Washington-area sniper murders last fall: “The moment I began to see parallels between his life and mine was the moment things began falling apart.” He writes of “how the frustrations of black men in this world can explode, crescendo into a huge rage that can manifest itself in some odd and sometimes unclear ways.”

In the proposal, which was read to The Washington Post by a source not connected to Blair, the 27-year-old admits that he “really screwed up,” “distorted the truth” and “embarrassed the New York Times and myself.” But the dominant motif is one of anger — hurling unsubstantiated charges of racism at the paper and promising to reveal the Times’s “darkest secrets,” which he says, without offering evidence, involve drug parties and one editor’s affair with an intern.

Blair casts his story as one of “a young black man” told he would never succeed “by everyone from his white second-grade teacher to his editor at the Times, who rose from the fields and got a place in the master’s house and then burned it down the only way he knew how.”

He doesn’t just play the race card. He plays the race casino. So black rage is an excuse for lying, cheating, sliming, and sleazing (and by extension to Malvo: murder)? No, there’s no excuse for what he did. None.

: UPDATE: Late-breaking opinions….. Reading my comments on this post, I have a few responses….. I’m not saying that it’s right not to credit stringer and other lowly souls. I’m saying that it is done everywhere and thus it’s wrong to treat Bragg as if it is a sudden sin he just invented. It’s not. It’s standard practice. Whether or not it should be standard practice is an entirely different argument. But it’s one in which Bragg should not be caught in the middle…. I need a copy editor to fix that last sentence….. Gawd, I miss writing with dots….. Stop me…..

: And on bylines: As I was saying to Elizabeth Spiers at lunch today… Andnow that she’s a hot media property, that’s quality name-dropping… Anyway, as I was saying today and now I’m obnoxiously quoting myself…. My own mother used to tell me about stories she’d just read in the Chicago Tribune and I used to have to say, “Yeah, Ma, I know, I wrote that.” Reporters’ own mothers don’t notice their bylines. Thus, nobody else in the world could possibly give a rat’s rump about Rick Bragg’s byline….

Mattter, meet antimatter

Mattter, meet antimatter
: Heiko Hebig meets Haiko Hebig.

Germans, military snobs; Ukranians, military allies

Germans, military snobs; Ukranians, military allies
: The Ukraine has agreed to send troops to Iraq to work with Polish forces there — something Germany refused to do.

Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast
: The draft European Union Constitution is out. Compare:

: E.U. Constitution: Reflecting the will of the citizens and States of Europe to build a common future, this Constitution establishes the European Union, on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they have in common. The Union shall coordinate the policies by which the Member States aim to achieve these objectives, and shall exercise in the Community way the competences they confer on it. The Union shall be open to all European States which respect its values and are committed to promoting them together.

: U.S. Constitution: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Did the European version lose something in the translation from the French?

: I find it telling that the Constitution “respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States.” Why single out “churches?” Because there are not many synagogues left? Because they wish mosques would go away?

: Note that the Constitution has a sex quota (what about race and religion?): “Each Member State shall submit a list of three persons, of whom at least one must be a woman, whom it considers qualified to be a European Commissioner.”

: The EU is going to have its own foreign minister. So what happens — as happened lately — when the nations disagree? Sounds like a mess. In any organization, somebody has to be in charge or no one is in charge. So who is it?

Member States shall consult one another within the Council and the European Council on any foreign and security policy issue which is of general interest in order to determine a common approach. Before undertaking any action on the international scene or any commitment which could affect the Union’s interests, each Member State shall consult the others within the Council or the European Council. Member States shall ensure, through the convergence of their actions, that the Union is able to assert its interests and values on the

international scene. Member States shall show mutual solidarity.

Sounds as if they’ll never decide anything. How convenient.

: “The Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the victim of terrorist attack or natural or man-made disaster.”

Bin Laden will test that.

: I’ll be eager to read their bill of rights vs. ours when it’s released.

Safe and sober

Safe and sober
: Saudi authorities nab 60 kilos of TNT, 50,000 pieces of ammunition… and 64 barrels of booze. Given the pickle you’re in, my brothers, I’d consider moving the alcohol police over to TNT duty.