Editor's Notes at EditorsNotes.com

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Bloggermann Cometh

At the bottom of Keith Olbermann's latest debate commentary is tacked this announcement:

Keith's blog 'Bloggermann,' debuts next week. Find it at Countdown.MSNBC.com.

Yes, but is he man enough for a comments section?

(Cit.: Lost Remote)
Mark Halperin in Memo Controversy

Drudge has published an internal memo written by ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin. The controversial section:

The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.

It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.

Why does something generate scandal when said privately, and not generate scandal when said publicly?

This memo echoes what LAT's Michael Kinsley said last week about the requirement of balance being "often just not justified by reality," and, as Halperin himself points out, builds on what was reported in the Times today. One can make a perfectly reasonable argument that Halperin, et al. are wrong, but why does Halperin get in a "scandal" over it, when others are saying it scandal-free? Is it simply because Drudge splashed it at the top of his website, or is it that it was written privately and can be construed as something meant to be hidden? This is much like how Farnaz Fassihi became a lightningrod for saying privately that Iraq was a mess, while other reporters were publicly saying the same with impunity, or even calling Fassihi's words "an understatement." Why wasn't Walter Rodgers raked over the same coals as Fassihi, and why isn't Kinsley being taken out to the same woodshed as Halperin?
ABCNews.com Gets 'Extreme Makeover'

ABCNews.com got its own "Extreme Makeover" today, with a lighter, cleaner look, more text-rich pages, and a free daily video clip among the most obvious changes. Initial feedback is mostly negative, though.
Sinclair to Air Pre-Election Anti-Kerry Flick


The conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose television outlets reach nearly a quarter of the nation's homes with TV, is ordering its stations to preempt regular programming just days before the Nov. 2 election to air a film that attacks Sen. John F. Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War, network and station executives familiar with the plan said Friday.

Sinclair's programming plan, communicated to executives in recent days and coming in the thick of a close and intense presidential race, is highly unusual even in a political season that has been marked by media controversies.

You may remember Sinclair from when it refused to air Nightline's reading of the names of war dead, rejecting the program as thinly veiled anti-war propaganda. Sinclair also airs a one-minute conservative commentary by Sinclair executive Mark Hyman each day on its 62 stations, usually during newscasts. According to Broadcasting & Cable, Sinclair is the largest television station group in the country.

(Cit.: Sinclair, Stolen Honor, Boycott Sinclair)
CNBC Loses Rukeyser


Veteran financial journalist Louis Rukeyser, who has been off television for a year due to cancer, has asked CNBC to pull the plug on his long-running Friday night business news show. CNBC said that "Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street," which has been airing with Consuelo Mack as substitute host, will cease production by the end of the year.

Rukeyser, 71, had announced earlier this year that he had cancer in his lower back and said Friday that complications had developed.

"I can no longer predict when I will be ready to rejoin you here," Rukeyser said.

Irreplaceable, shmirreplaceable: that edgy new Martina Navratilova project is just waiting in the wings.

(Officially, though, does this now mean God hates CNBC?)
Chicago Media Struggle over Keyes Daughter's Sexuality

Chicago Reader:

Daily papers have lost a lot of their authority to decide what's news. A story they refuse to cover will get to the public some other way, and if the dailies don't lead the discussion it'll go on just fine without them.

A couple of weeks ago the sexual orientation of the daughter of Alan Keyes became various bloggers' new hot subject. As I write this column, the Tribune and Sun-Times have published nothing on it. They've stood on principle, and the principle is hard to fault. They saw signs that Maya Keyes, only 19, dreaded the attention they were thinking of paying her. There is, after all, a big difference between her playing with the subject of lesbian romance on a Web site read by a few friends and having it exposed to the world. When bloggers began calling attention to www.xanga.com, the site where they said she posted her blog, the intimate material they'd noticed there promptly disappeared.


Rich Miller, publisher of the newsletter "Capitol Fax," reported on September 30: "Almost every Chicago political reporter is currently and actively pursuing the Keyes controversy, and his refusal to talk about it is starting to drive them a little crazy. You can see it in their stories. They're champing at the bit, eager to find the hook that justifies blowing this thing wide open. Most of them are also sensitive about the daughter, but this thing is obviously driving them nuts. Millions of people already know about this, but they're not allowed to report it."

And should the press provide the same protections when the person in question is a powerful congressman with an anti-gay voting record? More on that later.
NYT's Eyes Drawn Toward Bush's Bulge

Sorry for my Friday vacation, but I brought back a double entendre to make it up.


What was that bulge in the back of President Bush's suit jacket at the presidential debate in Miami last week?

According to rumors racing across the Internet this week, the rectangular bulge visible between Mr. Bush's shoulder blades was a radio receiver, transmitting answers from an offstage counselor into a hidden presidential earpiece. The prime suspect was Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's powerful political adviser.

For those keeping track, this is not a new low for the Times, since, for this story, Bumiller has inconclusive photographic evidence.

(Cit.: Salon, MediaChannel, Is Bush Wired?)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

FBI Raids US & UK Independent Media Servers

NYC Indymedia:

The FBI took the hard drives of Global IMC servers in the USA and the UK. It appears that a court order was issued to Rackspace (Indymedia's service provider with offices in the US and in London) to physically remove the hard drives from Global Indymedia servers (backup servers are now in place). Rackspace was given no time to defend against the order before it was acted upon and turned over the hard drives, both in the US and the UK. [...]

During the Republican Convention, the ISP of the NYC IMC was informed that it was the subject of a Secret Service / FBI investigation into an article submitted to its Open Newswire identifying delegates at the RNC. While the FBI has made it clear to members of the press that the investigation is ongoing, there is not necessarily a connection between events in NYC and the FBI's seizure of the Rackspace servers. Currently, much of the speculation about the reasons for the FBI's move centers around photographs posted to the IMC-Nantes website.

The only information about those photographs I can find is from a commenter on Slashdot:

Another theory is around some pictures of undercover Swiss police (photographing protesters) that were posted on an IMC site (IMC Nantes) - Indymedia got a request to remove 'identifying information' from the site (apparently the FBI got involved 'as a courtesy' to the Swiss authorities). Since there were no identifying details, Indymedia didn't do anything in response.
AP: Bush Wins Election

Original link #1, screen shot #1:

At this hour, President Bush has won re-election as president by a 47 percent to 43 percent margin in the popular vote nationwide. Ralph Nader has 1 percent of the vote nationwide. That's with 51 percent of the precincts reporting.

Bush has won 324 electoral votes in 33 states. He is leading in 4 states for a total of 43 more electoral votes.

Kerry has won 105 electoral votes in 8 states and the District of Columbia. He is leading in 5 states for a total of 48 more electoral votes.

Nader has not won any state and is not currently leading in any state.

In the 435 U.S. House races, the Republicans have won 173 seats and are leading in the races for 56 seats. The Democrats have won 145 seats and are leading in the races for 56 seats. Independent and other party candidates have won or are leading for 3 seats. If these trends continue, the Republicans will retain control of the Senate and will gain 3 seats.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

I'm claiming fair use.

Original link #2, screen shot #2:

With less than a month before the presidential election, an Associated Press test article declaring President Bush the winner was picked up by WBAY.com's automated system. The headline of the AP story did not bear that all-important word for the automated filters... "test."

The mistake was picked up by a discussion group on Daily Kos, prompting a phone call that alerted us to the problem. Our web host, WorldNow, removed the story within five minutes.

WBAY apologizes for the error, and we took quick action to correct it.

(Cit.: Daily Kos, MyDD,, reader tip)
Judith in Jail?


A federal judge held a reporter in contempt Thursday for refusing to divulge confidential sources to prosecutors investigating the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity.

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered New York Times reporter Judith Miller jailed until she agrees to testify about her sources before a grand jury, but said she could remain free while pursuing an appeal. Miller could be jailed up to 18 months.

Miller has previously expressed willingness to go to jail to protect her source(s).

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Hardball in the Crossfire

Does being criticized by both sides mean that you're doing something right or that you unanimously suck?

From the left, MediaMatters:

While the clear majority of commentators described the debate as a draw, MSNBC pundits expressed a dramatically different view, declaring Vice President Dick Cheney the undisputed victor.


CHRIS MATTHEWS (host of MSNBC's Hardball): Will it be apparent enough to The New York Times to mention tomorrow, will the liberal press admit Cheney won? [...] The analogy would be a water pistol against a machine gun.

And from the right, the Grand Old Party itself:

DEMOCRAT CHRIS MATTHEWS' SELECTIVE "ANALYSIS" - Matthews Pinch Hits For Edwards And Strikes Out The Truth

The GOP says Matthews was wrong in it's "fact check" of Cheney's debate statement, "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

Brian Montopoli examines the immediate consensus after the first presidential debate. To spare you his 700 fancy-pants writer words, it boils down to snap polls and real-time blogging.
Changes Coming to WaPo?

WaPo Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. approached the keyboard today in Ask the Post. Asked about the importance of network news anchors, Downie said, "[N]one of the potential successors to Brokaw, Rather and Jennings have anything like their breadth and depth of reporting experience before they became anchors, so I do not expect expect any of the successors to have the same influence." Also, Downie was quizzed on his earlier statement, "We are not judging the credibility of Kerry or the (Swift Boat) Veterans, we just print the facts." He elaborated, "There is a difference between judging and giving readers all the facts. We have thoroughly investigated and analyzed the claims on both sides and presented them to our readers in very lengthy, detailed stories [...] and then let our readers do the judging." I wonder what CJR's Campaign Desk would think of that?

Downie also hinted at changes coming to the paper:

Kingstowne, Va.: What is your reaction to the report in the alternative weekly that The Post's focus groups revealed a lack of enthusiasm for paying for the dead-tree version of the paper?

Leonard Downie Jr.: While we understand that many people now read news online, and we welcome all who read washingtonpost.com, we are also working on making the ink-on-paper newspaper more attractive and accessible to as many readers as possible.


Arlington, Va.: How do you plan to stem the decline in circulation, which seems even worse given our region's massive population growth?

Leonard Downie Jr.: We are continuing to expand our local news coverage. We are working on ways to make the paper more physically attractive and easier to navigate through each day. And we are increasing our coverage, particularly on the front page, of subjects that matter most to our readers in their daily lives, including health, pop culture, education, entertainment, technology, etc.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Brokaw Bothered by Brent Bozell


On Saturday, for the third time this year, Tom Brokaw lashed out at the Media Research Center. At the New Yorker Festival, Brokaw rued how "Brent Bozell has, you know, an entire organization devoted to doing as much damage, and I choose that word carefully, as he can to the credibility of the news divisions." We couldn't have done it without their help.

To be fair, Brokaw recognizes their liberal critics as well, but in different language:

And now, on the left, there are the young bloggers out there who are anti-establishment and have their own kind of schematic for, as is their right, to offer up this criticism and to develop constituencies around it. These three aging white men are stuck somewhere in the middle trying, on a nightly basis, give a fair and balanced picture of what's going on in the world....
Walter Rodgers: 'Disaster' Email 'An Understatement'

Orignially intended as a private message to friends, an email written by Farnaz Fassihi, WSJ's correspondent in Baghdad, has exploded across the Internet and created a debate about whether the situation in Iraq is as bad as Fassihi says. Quoting Fassihi today on Business International, CNN's Richard Quest asked senior international correspondent Walter Rodgers whether Iraq was indeed a "disaster":

"That's probably an understatement." Rodgers asked, "Where's the good news?"

Later, he added, "The Americans, the Bush administration [...] has failed." Rodgers said he personally suspects, without knowing, that all of the Western networks are just "waiting for one Western reporter to be killed" before they pull out. "They don't want to be there," he said. He pointed to European news outlets that have already begun to withdraw.

Though not directed to Fassihi, Rodgers offered some advice: "If you expect to be liked, don't be a reporter, and don't be a war correspondent."
Kerry Rep Walks Out on Hannity


Kerry spokesperson Michael Meehan prematurely ended his appearance on Hannity & Colmes segment after Sean and Bush rep Nicolle Devenish "ganged up" on him. One e-mailer called it the "most blatant example of attack journalism that I've ever seen on TV:" "They wouldn't let him answer with anything besides a yes or a no." As the first of two planned segments concluded, Meehan said: "If you're not going to let me answer, then I'll just cede my time." He walked out during the commercial, while Devenlish stuck around for part two.

Did anyone here see it?
Sumner Redstone Exposes Self

Johnnie Roberts, Newsweek:

Should media moguls refrain from endorsing presidential candidates? [...] The question has gained new urgency in New York and Washington after Sumner Redstone, who controls CBS-parent Viacom, enthusiastically endorsed President George W. Bush. From a "Viacom standpoint, the election of a Republican administration is a better deal," Redstone told an audience of CEOs in Hong Kong in late September, "because the Republican administration has stood for many things we believe in, deregulation and so on." In the widely-reported remarks, he added: "I vote for what’s good for Viacom." [...]

Critics, in a debate that’s now beginning to take hold, say Redstone may have risked exposing the entire media sector to the unwelcome appearance of coziness with federal regulators.

Yes, how dare he. What next? Telling us how Viacom hosts parties for congress members and sends them on vacations, then asks them to vote Viacom's way on legislation?

Monday, October 04, 2004

FNC: If Cameron Does It Again, He Can Be Fired

TVNewser gets its hands on an internal FNC memo:

"Last week, we experienced separate lapses of judgment, resulting in the posting, on our website, of inaccurate material," Moody writes. "Credibility is our lifeblood. When we make factual mistakes, we affect adversely all the hard work that we've done for eight years to become the country's leading news channel." He calls Cameron's quotes a "stupid parody" that was included in the scripts queue, then picked up and added "unthinkingly" to the web site.

"For that reason, we are implementing a number of changes," he continues. "First, and immediately, the scripts queue is OFF LIMITS for editorial use until the item has been broadcast or the script is approved for use. Second, the use of scripts queue for humor, sarcasm, parody or other unprofessional conduct is strictly forbidden. Failure to follow this directive is a dismissable offense."

An anonymous tipster claiming FNC employment raises an eyebrow, however:

When I saw the language, it was abundantly clear that he wanted it leaked to the press. Notice that even in an advisory memo, he still takes the time to trumpet FNC over its competitors.

In addition, a FoxNews.com article offers regrets and a joke after publishing quotes from satirical group, "Communists for Kerry":

FOXNews.com regrets the error. From now on, polygraphs for everybody.
Frank Luntz: GOP Hack or Not?

Howard Kurtz quoted Frank Luntz today on his being dropped by MSNBC after MediaMatters complained:

"I think they buckled to political pressure," says Luntz, who has advised Republicans from Newt Gingrich to Rudy Giuliani but says he's done no GOP work since 2001. "They caved. . . . Why is it that Democrats are allowed to do this" after leaving politics, "but Republicans aren't?"

But MediaMatters says Luntz has indeed done GOP work recenty:

But as MMFA has noted, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported on September 2: "Earlier this year, GOP pollster Frank Luntz advised Republicans to never talk about Iraq or homeland security without first mentioning how '9/11 changed everything.'" The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on September 1: "Republican pollster Frank Luntz did his best Tuesday to pump up Ohio's Republicans at a delegation breakfast. 'If you guys fail, if John Kerry becomes president by a percent or half a percent, I think you're going to be pretty regretful,' he said."

MediaMatters has more examples and links, including a report of paid work for "Rescue California, Recall Gray Davis." It could be, though, that what Luntz said was imprecisely summarized by Kurtz, or that Luntz has another idea of what "GOP work" means.
Real News About Fake News

NYT's Warren St. John files a piece on fake news, and Fimoculous offers an idea: What about an entire blog on fake news?

If it's any good, I'll link to it.

(Cit.: MediaBistro)
Michael Moore Rejected Killian Docs?

The Washington Note received this report from a Michael Moore Q&A in Arkansas (consider the source):

Moore said he looked into it at the time and concluded that they weren't reliable. Not surprisingly, he really didn't seem to have any sympathy for Rather's mistake. He mentioned Burkett's name during the discussion, but never said that Burkett was his source.
Peter Jennings, Eater of Sheep Testicles


FINGER-LICKIN' GOOD? Peter Jennings is quite the culinary risk-taker, judging by his recent revelations to Webster Hall curator Baird Jones: "As part of my travels as a journalist, I have had the chance to sample many bizarre menus. For instance, I've eaten sheep's testicles in Jordan, python in the Philippines and, in Mexico, I had a dinner of ants which were quite small and well cooked. But the strange thing about the dozens of exotic foods I've eaten is that they all seem to taste the same - like plain-old chicken!"

Bob Edwards debuts on satellite radio. ... Sharon Bush drops retraction demand, lawsuit threat against Kitty Kelley. ... Euro news orgs recede in fear from Iraq. ... Letters to editors laced with harmless powder. ... Network news gets marginalized. ... Publisher William Holiber to become US News prez. ... Bernard Shaw roasted at Spina Bifida Association benefit. ... Wonkette crashes Bob Schieffer book party.
NYT Furtively Criticizes Self


In Sunday's 10,000-word indictment of the Bush administration's misuse of prewar intelligence on Iraq's nuclear capabilities, The New York Times did not spare itself in apportioning blame in the fateful rush to war. Readers had to dig deep into the massive story, and understand some of the subtleties in the self-criticism, but it was there.


The first hint of self-criticism in the Times article comes just past the midway point, when the writers observe that on Sept. 8, 2002, the top article on page one of their newspaper "gave the first detailed account of the aluminum tubes. The article cited unidentified senior administration officials who insisted that the dimensions, specifications and numbers of tubes sought showed that they were intended for a nuclear weapons program."


Today's Times story dryly observes: "The article gave no hint of a debate over the tubes," adding, "The White House did much to increase the impact of The Times article."


Today, however, the Times revealed that the vast majority of scientists and nuclear experts at the Energy Department's labs, in fact, disagreed with the CIA assessment. [...]

Finally, much later in today's story, the reporters note that their paper, on January 10, 2003, reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency was challenging the "key piece of evidence" behind "the primary rationale for going to war." The article, the paper said, in passing, appeared on Page A10.

When Daniel Okrent solicited suggestions for a new type of correction last week, I don't imagine anyone chimed in with the Where's-Waldo sorta-culpa.
Swallow Your Pride, Credit Blogs

Campaign Desk:

Scoops and attribution are our topic today; specifically, who deserves credit for breaking one of the weekend buzz stories coming out of the debates. We're referring to Fox News' fake posting which quoted John Kerry as saying: "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" [...]

Stephen C. Clemons at The Washington Note writes that Josh Marshall broke the story about the phony cuticle quote, attributed to Fox's Carl Cameron. Clemons writes: ["]Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times in his report on the fabricated Kerry posting says nothing of Joshua Marshall's investigation or his reporting.["]

Now, in this case, it's Josh Marshall. Real journalist, real name, credit him. But are you really going to credit some person of unspecified gender named "Stet," some guy named "Gen. JC Christian, Patriot," or some blog named "Little Green Footballs?" Their reporting may be as gossipy and dodgy as a blog's, but there may still be things that are below The New York Times.
Bill Maher on Fox Debate Coverage

Caution: not worksafe (1.2MB Quicktime).

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Brokaw, Jennings: Rather Unfairly Treated


While acknowledging mistakes in CBS anchor Dan Rather's "60 Minutes" report [...] Brokaw blasted what he called an attempt to "demonize" CBS and Rather on the Internet, where complaints about the report first surfaced. He said the criticism "goes well beyond any factual information."

"What I think is highly inappropriate is what going on across the Internet, a kind of political jihad ... that is quite outrageous," the NBC anchor said at a panel on which all three men spoke.


"I don't think you ever judge a man by only one event in his career," said Jennings, anchor on ABC.

Check the C-SPAN video, though, because I'm sure I saw Jennings direct the international "crazy" signal Rather's way during the Q&A's.


Rather said he did not ask enough questions before the war or conduct enough follow-up reporting.

"If the country is in dire peril, as the president of the United States says it is ... I want to be a patriotic journalist," he said.

"You know that the role of the patriotic journalist is to put your fear aside, stand up, look them in the eye, ask the rough questions. But you also know that when you do that, you're going to get hammered..." Rather said. "So what happens is you just say ... maybe tomorrow."