Posts from September 16, 2004

Baghdad Broadcasting strikes again

Baghdad Broadcasting strikes again

: The BBC, even the picture of balance, makes a big deal that we didn’t go to the DMV (Division of Military Vehicles) to get a license plate for our war in Iraq. Joe Territo reports:

The BBC today is making a big deal of an exclusive interview in which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the War In Iraq was “illegal.” In the course of hyping Annan’s Bush/Blair-bashing position, a BBC reporter asked an Iraqi official about whether his government is essentially invalid because the war was illegal. My car-pool colleague chortled that this is the equivalent of saying that since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was illegal, the buildings that will replace the towers are invalid. What should this invalid government do? Reinstate Saddam Hussein?

Yes, and I’d like America to meet its Queen.

The New New York

The New New York

: Adam Moss is bringing his changes to New York Magazine.

He just brought back Kurt Andersen as a columnist of this and that.

And Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly is the new film critic. Said Ken: “I’m really glad I won’t have to review that new Jason Alexander sitcom.”

A note on Ken: When I started EW, I was the TV critic at People and I thought that finding another TV critic would be the toughest hire I’d have to make. It was, instead, the easiest. I read a bunch of critics; liked Ken’s stuff in the Philly Inky; met him; liked him; hired him; and always enjoyed his criticism.

Two good Moss moves.

New parlor game: Who’s worse?

New parlor game: Who’s worse?

: Glenn Reynolds makes a few points in today’s anti-Kerry post that I feel compelled to address.

First, he quotes Hugh Hewitt saying that:

Kerry’s problem is that he is simply the worst major party candidate of my lifetime, period running against a likeable incumbent backed by a growing economy and a record of bold action in the global war on terrorism.

I’ll leave the last two-thirds of that to your judgment. But “simply the worst major party candidate of my lifetime”? Really? I thought Hugh was older than 8.

I offer for your consideration Michael Dukakis… Walter Mondale… Jimmy Carter (the loser)… George McGovern… Barry Goldwater (who cares if you love him; he made landslide a household word)… “Simply the worst major party candidate” of this generation? Naw, not yet.

And then Glenn says:

The Democrats’ problem is that the base, which, like bases do, cares mostly about emotional returns, wanted Howard Dean. But the leadership, which, like leaderships do, cares about status and connections and thus about winning, knew that Dean couldn’t win. They tried to split the difference with Kerry, whom they thought could fool the gullible folks in flover country into seeing him as a more-macho version of Bush, while winking to the base that he was really a tall Howard Dean with some medals. This was a dumb idea, and it hasn’t worked.

No, the Democratic base did not want Howard Dean. That’s why he never won a frigging primary! Give the people some credit! The Democratic base isn’t nearly nutty as Dean became.

This all came because BoiFromTroi speculated what things would be like with Gephardt instead (as I speculated the other day about what things would be like with Gore instead). And the moral to the story is still the same, I will readily grant: Kerry is neither an inspiring nor is he burning up the polls.

Oh, to have a Clinton….

I heard the news today, oh boy…

I heard the news today, oh boy…

: Ken Layne watches the news:

And nothing about Iraq on the news today. I’ve been flipping through the cable news channels and it’s all Ivan the Terrible and Bush Memos. Did the war with Iraq end, again? Did we win? High Five!

And Martha. And Laci.

Rathergate and me

Rathergate and me

: I just finished the op-ed I was asked to do on Rathergate; if it runs, it will be this weekend and I’ll post it then. But today I wanted to address why I haven’t written more on DanScam because some people — some nicer than others — have been pushing me on it.

First: I should have written more and that is my mistake. I do cover media here, in a manner of speaking. I live in both media worlds — big and blog. And CBScam is big media news. And so I should have commented on it here earlier and more often. I was wrong not to.

Second: I have found frequently in the blogosphere that if you don’t jump on a story at the first moment, it’s damned hard to catch up. That was particularly true of Typegate; the story moved with the speed of bits and expanded so fast I couldn’t even reliably link to who was on top of it. Others were covering it far better than I could.

Third: I still have problems with the fact that the roots of this story, too, are in the mud of this campaign. Others make typography or Cambodia their hobbyhorses; mud is mine. But I grant that the story morphed; it wasn’t about Bush and the military but instead about Rather and the apparent forgeries. My allergy to mud dissuaded me from paying sufficient attention to this.

Fourth: I also regretted being drawn into the mud-slinging stories by people pushing me to do so here. I tried to stay away from it and did for a long time but finally succumbed to comment on it in my way and it got just as dirty and nasty (and predictable and boring and useless) as anyone could predict it would. So I didn’t want to be sucked in again.

Admit the irony: We get sick of Big Media telling us what we should read. But here commenters try to tell us what to write.

It’s not media. It’s a blog. It’s personal. I’ll write about what I want to write about (or not). You don’t like it? Then go blog.

So I’m admitting that I should have been more on top of the Rather story but I’m not saying this because natterers needled annoyingly; in fact, the more they nattered, the longer I stayed on the sidelines.

Doc Searls says it much better than I am:

I got slammed in an email this morning that essentially called me chickenshit for not piling onto Dan Rather and CBS for whatever it was they did (and continue to do) wrong.

Well, folks, it’s not that I don’t care. Or that I don’t know anything. It’s that I don’t know enough, and I’m busy doing my job, which isn’t blogging.

And it’s not like nobody’s on the case. I see Technorati finds 332 posts matching “Rathergate” alone.

My fave, of the few threads I’ve visited on the matter, is this one, following a cautious and responsible post by Dan Gillmor. Lots of intersting thoughts and perspectives in there.

Here’s one more. Blogging isn’t cable TV. We don’t have to fill otherwise empty pipes with “content,” and we don’t have to hold eyeballs still while our customers stab them with advertising messages. Most of all, we don’t have to join the ranks of the professionally opinionated, or the choirs of voices raised in righteous rage against political enemies.

We’re free-range writers. If you don’t like what we say or don’t say, there are plenty of other potential sources of what you want, all gathered in a place that would never exist if it were up to the major media, the entertainment industry, the publishing industry, and the lawmakers and regulators who protect them all. (Even the writer who gave me shit wrote back later to report that he’d found what he wanted here.)

If there’s any fer-sure “message” about this “medium,” that’s it.

When I do put up my op-ed, you’ll see that I slam the man, Dan and praise the bloggers and issue a few cautionary notes but if I summarize it in 25 words here, the guy who asked for the op-ed won’t give me the 1,000 words of space I’m expecting. So that will come later.

: UPDATE: See Jay Rosen in the comments responding to a commenter who demands that he speak on an issue.

This is an odd reaction to blogs. In the long run, I think it’s a compliment, a backwards valentine: Somebody wants to know what you say about something or expects you to have an opinion — even and often one with which they’ll disagree — and so they can’t believe it when you don’t; you disappoint. Nonetheless, a blog is still personal; it’s what a blogger wants to write when he or she wants to (or has the time to) write it.