Monday, May 30, 2005

The Shashi Fan Club -- and Reuters -- Responds

My post the other day on the UN giving a forum to the anti-Semite Israel Shamir--for which we all can thank the UN's not-so-hard-working Minister of Propaganda, Shashi Tharoor--has elicited a response from the Shashi Tharoor Fan Club! Well, actually two responses. I'll leave the best for last.

The first is from a reader, calling himself "Emet," who claims that he was at the event in question. He defends Tharoor in a comment to my post, saying that Tharoor was a veritable pillar of integrity who publicly castigated Shamir. And besides, our reader points out, "the decision to include Israel Shamir was made prior to Tharoor's appointment."

Well, I don't know how "Emet" is privy to the internal workings of the UN Department of Public Information, but... putting that aside and assuming its accuracy.... as another comment notes, Tharoor was appointed five months before the Paris "forum" that gave a platform to a joker who is so extreme that he is disowned by the Palestinians.

Tharoor's UN bio confirms that he was appointed in January 2001, while the "UN International Media Encounter on the Question of Palestine" was held in June 2001. Five months. Hmmm.... I think five months was plenty of time for Tharoor to unpack, put up his pictures, water his plants, make a pot of coffee and... yes, vet the participants in the UN International Media Encounter on the Question of Palestine. Or, at the very least, delegate one of the seven hundred flacks, bureaucrats and propagandists at the Department of Public Information to do it for him.

So sorry Emet. Shashi hadn't "just been appointed to head UNDPI." Nice try. But thanks for posting and good luck with your blog, Tharoor's Record. No kidding--that's its name. (Wow.... you really like the guy, don't you........)

By the way, if Tharoor really did go ape when Shamir started mouthing off, as Emet contends, one would think that there would be something in the public record distancing the DPI (and Tharoor personally) from the invitation. There isn't.

Back to the question--why did Tharoor allow a creepy anti-Semite to participate in a UN forum--and probably pay his way to Paris if not pay him for participating on the panel? How could did he do such a thing? Well, he could be an anti-Semite himself who didn't see anything wrong with Shamir's very public excoriations of the Jewish people. He could be just dumb and incompetent. Or Shashi could have realized that nobody would care. After all, he was among chums--the media.

That brings me to the really most fascinating response to my item. A reader decided to send copies of my post on Tharoor to some UN reporters, as a way of alerting them to this Tharoor-Shamir business and perhaps arouse their interest. After all, it is a legitimate news story and is entirely contained in the public record. What if Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, had done exactly what Tharoor had done? It would be page one news from coast to coast--and I daresay that "I've only been on the job for five months" wouldn't wash. McClellan would be fired so fast it would make your head spin.

Anyway, this reader received back a snippy response from none other Evelyn Leopold, UN correspondent for the Reuters "news" service. Leopold said in an email to this reader "You have an agenda and relly [sic] don't know what you are talking about. Tis embarrassing."

Wow. This lady is most definitely not interested and is really annoyed that someone would dare question the record of our Minister of Propaganda. Isn't that interesting? Putting aside the irony of someone from Reuters accusing anyone else on this planet of having an "agenda," we have this "don't know what you're talking about" stuff. Say Evelyn, it's all in the public record--Shamir's Jew-baiting, his participation in the "forum," his repudiation by the Palestinians-- every bit of it.

Evelyn's email substantiates what we already know, which is that that the relationship between the UN press corps and the UN is closerthanthis, as the gossip columnists used to say. Sure, some of them have been on the payroll, but you don't have to be functioning as a paid flack or UN TV host to abandon your role as an inquiring journalist and switch over to a defender of the UN and its officials when they are criticized. We saw this during Koffigate and we see this happening with Tharoor.

I don't know. Would Evelyn Leopold act this way if she were a White House correspondent and it really was Scott McClellan who hosted Israel Shamir--or perhaps some anti-black or anti-Catholic bigot? We can only surmise...

Anyway, there are still more issues raised by Shashigate, but that's enough for now.

Ombudsmen Strike a Blow for Bias

Today the New York Times discusses a controversy at an organization I didn't even know existed, the "Organization of News Ombudsmen." Seems ONO is up in arms because the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has decided to appoint two ombudsmen. ONO, the Times said, "questioned their independence."

As discussed on CAMERA's Snapshots blog today, ONO is carrying water for its president, Jeffrey Dvorkin, whose own work as ombudsman of National Public Radio is to be examined by the two new CPB ombudsmen.

The word for this is "conflict of interest." Goodness gracious! Isn't that something ombudsmen are supposed to oppose?

The reason CPB had to appoint two ombudsmen was that Dvorkin did a lousy job, particularly when it came to pervasive anti-Israel bias in NPR broadcasts. That was conclusively proven in a CAMERA report that is, incidentally, nowhere mentioned in the Times report. Instead the Times cites a self-serving report by NPR which found that " viewers and listeners do not share those perceptions" of bias.

This ONO is really a laugh a minute. The "incoming president" is the notoriously comatose reader's representative of the Fleet Street snot rag The Guardian, who imperiously intones that "the nature of ONO could be changed by a flood of inappropriate members." No! We can't have that. Better to have "appropriate members" employed by parodies of journalism such as his employer.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Another "Disappointment"

The Associated Press reports today that Ariel Sharon, taking a step that no American official in his right mind would do, has agreed to release 400 Palestinian prisoners.

The AP, as usual, hews closely to the Palestinian line, saying in the lead paragraph that "the overdue gesture — part of a February truce — disappointed Palestinians who said Israel broke a promise to coordinate the release with them."

Note the editorial commentary--"overdue." Still what interests me about this story is not the bias but this line: "Palestinians criticized the decision, saying Israel had broken its agreement to consult them on which prisoners to release."

These prisoner releases are supposed to be "goodwill gestures." Obviously it doesn't accomplish that objective. These releases have limited propaganda value. They invariably result in expressions of "disappointment" from Palestinian officials. So it really makes you wonder, why does Israel do it?

The UN's Anti-Semitic Propagandists in Action

Tharoor: Anti-Semitic or Just Plain Dumb?

In past items I've talked about how the UN has a mind-boggling seven hundred shills, bureaucrats and propagandists on the payroll of its "Department of Public Information," under the UN's Minister of Propaganda Shashi Tharoor. This monstrosity has been ignored by the media covering the UN, some of whom are on the UN payroll.

A reader alerted me to an example of Tharoor earning his pay.

A fascinating post appeared a couple of days ago on John Rosenthal's excellent Transatlantic Intelligencer blog, describing how Tharoor's UN propaganda apparatus gave a forum in 2001 to an anti-Semitic loon by the name of Joran Jermas, who used to go by the name of Israel Shamir.
This is a guy who practices anti-Semitism of the old-fashioned "Jews run everything and killed Christ" variety so well known to our grandparents. His main claim to "prominence" among his fellow nuts is that he is part of that peculiar species of bedbug known as the "self-hating Israeli Jew."

Now when I say "anti-Semite," I'm not just throwing that word around. This Shamir is so far off the charts that he was disowned by the hate-Israel community! No less a Moonbat than Nigel Parry was so embarassed by this guys ravings that he was forced to distance himself from Shamir, saying on his anti-Israel website that Shamir's writings can "best be described as a classic anti-Semitic repertoire."

What's too anti-Semitic for even the most stark raving Moonbats is just okey-dokey by the UN's Ministry of Propaganda. The Transatlantic Intelligencer blog reports that "In June 2001, the UN held an 'International Media Encounter on the Question of Palestine' in Paris. The ostensible 'theme': 'The Search for Peace in the Middle East.' Shamir figured among the invited speakers." (All flown out to gay Paree at UN-member-taxpayer expense, in all likelihood.)

Now, it needs to be pointed out that by the time Shamir was trotted out by Tharoor and company, Shamir had already been disowned by the Palestinians as anti-Semitic! Note the date of the letters and writings posted on Parry's website. They were dated April 2001, predating this UN conclave by two months.

Tharoor was the moderator and spoke at this nauseating "event," reading a "welcome message" from Kofi Annan. The participants were the typical assortment of Palestinian terrorist cheerleaders and Moonbats, including such luminaries as Phyliss Bennis, author of the moronic Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today's UN.

The DPI bio for this event describes Shamir as a "leading Russian-Israeli intellectual, writer, translator and journalist."

As a result of great work like this, Tharoor was promoted to the top job at the UN's propaganda machinery in mid-2002.

Either Tharoor, who was largely if not solely responsible for this "media encounter" as interim head of the DPI, is an anti-Semite himself who has no problem with giving a forum to an advocate of "classic anti-Semitism," or he and his bloated staff were too dumb to do the most basic vetting of their speakers. By early 2001, however, the utter nuttiness of Shamir's views were well-known. So you've got to figure they were just fine by Tharoor.

Yep, that's your tax dollars at work, folks. You pay for this loafer Tharoor as he sits at his desk and writes books and figures out new ways of organizing "media events" featuring kooks and anti-Semites. Aren't you glad your tax dollars are being well spent?

Oh, and when the UN tries to gull some "Jewish leaders" to stop on by and chew the fat--such as the soiree in early May-- guess who's the one in charge?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A Heartening Response

A lot of people, myself included, were upset when the Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal let a left-wing loon named Sandy Wold use the pages of this Gannett newspaper to spew anti-Semitic hatred. As I noted in an item last week, the Journal handled the matter poorly by running a self-serving editorial that wrapped itself in the First Amendment.

However, it should be noted that the response of the local community in Ithaca has been heartening. Judging from the letters column of the Journal, which last week overflowed with condemnation of Wold and not a single letter in support, people are still upset.

In a letter today, a reader excoriates Wold for saying in an apology last week that "Our planet has evolved to a point where we are ready to admit that we do not know what is truth anymore."

Said the response today: "
This opinion goes beyond mere foolishness; it is obscene. A ditch full of bodies at Auschwitz is, in fact, the truth. Stalin's purges are the truth." The outraged reader concludes: "Sandy Wold may go ahead and do all the 'inner work' she wants, but The Journal, its self-aggrandizing free-speech sidebar notwithstanding, ought to encourage her to do it somewhere else."

Friday, May 27, 2005

A Singular Achievement

The Very Worst

Marketwatch media columnist Jon Friedman today profiles Keith Kelly of the New York Post, as part of his continuing series of puff pieces on other reporters who cover the media.

In this latest installment of shameless flackery, Friedman reveals to the world that this Post reporter is "driven to beat the competition," is a "New York-Irish Columbo -- toting a reporter's notepad," and above all, is a man who doesn't "like doing the puffy, goodwill pieces."

If only the readers of Marketwatch were so fortunate.

Marketwatch promises that this will be the very last such waste of bandwith, but it's too late. Through pathetic puff pieces and generally lightweight coverage, marked by a diligent pursuit of trivia, Jon Friedman has earned the distinction of World's Worst Media Writer of 2005.

Congratulations, Jon Friedman!


The BBC strike has been called off. Damn. Damn. Damn. Well, what can you do....

In caving in to the demands of the hacks in its employ, the jellyfish who run this odiferous organization issued a memo to its staff that said, among other things: "This is a critical moment for the BBC. We face unprecedented change in our industry."

Such as, one hopes, dissolution of the BBC.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Massive Fraud? Support for Terrorism? No Problem!

Bad Credit? No Credit? No Problem!

Ever hear that from a TV pitchman? I was reminded of that when I read an op-ed piece in USA Today by the Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, in which he advocated doubling aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Massive waste? Massive fraud? Massive funding of terrorism? No problem!

As my mother said about my uncle when he signed over his house to a scam artist, Senator Frist "meant well." But he should review the history of the Palestinian Authority before he makes himself look even more foolish.

The UN's Hard-Working Minister of Propaganda

Tharoor: Lots of Time on His Hands

One story that the mainstream media has yet to pick up--even though it first surfaced at a UN daily press briefing--is the immense waste of taxpayer money being poured down the drain at the UN's bloated Ministry of Propaganda, its "Department of Public Information." As we first explored a few days ago, the UN employs a staggering seven hundred professional propagandists, four hundred of them at the UN headquarters and the rest scattered at various points around the globe.

What makes it all even more infuriating is that this horrific boondoggle, largely borne by US taxpayers, is not about to be reduced if the UN's Minister of Propaganda, Shashi Tharoor, has anything to say about it. It surfaced at the press conference the other day that Tharoor "has been unable to identify a single post in DPI that he doesn’t think is essential for the continuation of DPI."

Apparently that includes himself--even though it appears that he has plenty of time on his hands. It surfaced at today's press briefing that Tharoor has so much spare time that he actually has written a book while on the UN payroll, entitled Bookless in Baghdad. He had previously written a biography of Nehru, also while manning a desk at the UN headquarters.

Tharoor's new book is a thumb-sucker on the craft of writing. Guess he had plenty of time to sit around and think about that, while you paid his salary.

Isn't that a pretty picture? Your tax dollars support this loafer and the seven hundred professional shills and flacks in his employ. Oh, and here's a cute postscript: According to the previous press briefing, Tharoor has said publicly that the DPI does a lousy job.

Sad thing, isn't it? Seven hundred propagandists and bureaucrats sitting around, journalists on the payroll, and they can't convince anybody that the UN is worth the steam off its falafel? Doesn't it make you want to cry--or maybe write a book?

Welcome Canada!

I've been getting a lot of readers and emails today from Canada, two of whose leading blogs --Small Dead Animals and the Blogging Tories—were kind enough to mention us today.

Welcome! Stay a while. Y'all come back now.... hear?

The Journal Catches Road Map Amnesia

I'm a great fan of the Wall Street Journal--tough, straight-shooting reporting, even on the Middle East.

One reason I like the Journal is a story I read in today's Journal. It's the usual straightforward reporting, totally objective as far as it goes. But here's something I found annoying. The Journal correctly reports: "U.S. and Israeli officials complain that apart from helping to arrange an informal cease-fire, Mr. Abbas has avoided cracking down on militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad."

(Sigh.) It's not just a "complaint," guys. The Palestinians are required to crack down on millitants under the Road Map. And as long as the world media, and even the Wall Street Journal, keeps giving them a pass on that, they're never going to crack down on millitants.

Another Day, Another Terrorist White-Wash

A double-header in The New York Times today! An article that downplays the murderous character of the two leading terrorist groups in the Middle East, and an editorial that rolls out the welcome mat for Mohammed Abbas by letting him off the hook on the Road Map.

Whitewash No. 1 today is a story by Steve Erlanger that is really pretty dreadful even by Times standards. It is the story of the kind, cuddly, uncle-like Ahmad el-Kurd, mayor of Deir Al Balah in Gaza--the very human face of the murder mob called Hamas.

Erlanger really lays it on thick, briefly tossing in the words "suicide bombing" to satisfy the folks back home, but the undisguised purpose of the piece is PR for Hamas. He does not mention that the group is dedicated to destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state. It really makes no bones about that.

Instead Erlanger passes on a load of hooey, from unnamed "Hamas officials," that these anonymous people "say they can accept an independent Palestine on the 1967 boundaries with Jerusalem as its capital and a recognition of the right of return for refugees, positions that are unacceptable to Israel."

Isn't that nice of them? If only it were true and if only Erlanger were to have pointed out that, in fact, the group has not abandoned either its terrorism or its goals.

Erlanger goes on to suggest that Hamas might pattern itself after Hezbollah, described here as an "army"--conjuring up images of a neat rows of men in green marching down Fifth Avenue and not a scabby bunch of kidnappers and terrorists whose idea of "combat" was to blow up U.S. Marines in their barracks.

Whitewash No.2 is on the editorial page, where the Times rolls out the welcome mat for Mohammed Abbas, saying that Abbas has tried to stop the aforementioned Hamas (the one with the cuddly uncle mayor) from "lobbing rockets from Gaza into Israel." But golly, that may not happen and "if it degenerates into a violent showdown between settlers and the Israeli Army, with Hamas unhelpfully throwing rockets at settlers on their way out of Gaza, any chance of returning to the road map will be lost."

Note that word--"unhelpful." Murdering civilians is "unhelpful" in the view of the Times editorial board. I wonder how members of the Times staff would feel if someone lobbed bombs at their classic-six apartments on West End Avenue. Would they view that as "unhelpful?"

And by the way, what about the Road Map? It is mentioned here and there in these pieces, but nowhere is it mentioned that all this "unhelpful stuff" is covered by the Road Map for Peace--and that, above all, the Palestinians have already agreed to it.

In case you've forgotten--the Times surely has--that requires an immediate and "unconditional cessation of violence" and, in the first phase, "sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure."

To the Times, however, lobbing bombs at settlers is just "unhelpful" and an end to violence and dismantling of terror infrastructure is something that "Israel wants" and not something to which the Palestinians have agreed.

This one-sided view of the Road Map is not some kind of "goof" or "mistake" or oversight, by the way. It is the consistent editorial policy of the New York Times. Neither the Times editorial board nor the editors on the foreign desk or correspondents in the field believe that the Palestinians should abide by their obligations under the Road Map. If they did, they would mention it, and not come down with a case of "Road Map Amnesia."

Ohmygosh....someone's reading this stuff!

This blog is beginning to get noticed. Today we begin cross-posting to the splendid Israpundit, and we've received some very nice plugs in Blogging Tories and Western Standard. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hair-splitting at Slate

I haven't been part of the "lynch Isikoff" crowd from day one. I have felt that Newsweek, not its reporter Mike Isikoff, deserves the blame for the Koran-flushing scandal. The problem is that Newsweek has a section, "Periscope," that has slack standards and allows publication of inflammatory items on the word of a single source.

Still, Newsweek is to blame--for being wrong and also for inflating the number of sources for the item. Today, Slate's usually coherent Jack Shafer splits hairs to defend Newsweek from the source-inflation charge.

The original item said: "Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash."

Shafer maintains that what you just read--the words "sources tell NEWSWEEK"--"doesn't claim multiple sources for the Quran allegation. It claims multiple sources for the Quran allegation plus the anecdote about the dog leash."

Baloney! This reminds me of the old Groucho Marx joke: "What do belief, me or your own two eyes?"

The Periscope item didn't just imply--it flat-out SAID--that the Quran flushing and dog leash stuff took place in the same multi-sourced incident.

Stand in the corner, Jack. Keep it up, and you'll get the Jon Friedman Memorial Award for Worst Media Commentary.

Reuters' Roadmap Amnesia

In a piece that moved on the Reuters "news" wire this morning, its chief Palestinian propagandist, Wafa Amr, finally uses a phrase that is generally absent from the Reuters lexicon--the "Roadmap"!

Amr begins by rewriting history.....

Abbas' visit is the first by a Palestinian president since 2000, when Middle East peace negotiations collapsed into violence for which U.S. officials often blamed Abbas' late predecessor, Yasser Arafat.

No, the negotiations didn't "collapse into violence." That's not just lousy syntax--it's wrong. The "late predecessor" used violence, preplanned violence, to seek what he could not obtain after negotiations failed because of his intransigence.

Having rewritten history, Amr loyally rewrites the present:
Washington, eager to end the deadlock in the peace process, has welcomed Abbas' ability to extract a cease fire from Palestinian militant groups and his efforts to achieve statehood through democratic and peaceful means.

...excluding the fact that in fact the "ceasefire" was just dramatically violated in Gaza, as well as the fact that the Road Map for Peace requires Palestinians to not just have a "cease fire" but to permanently renounce violence. The Palestinian Authority must also "undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere." Which hasn't been done, of course.

What follows further down in the story is the real whopper:
Officials said Abbas will show Bush on Thursday maps that detail the expansion of settlement activity in the West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem -- a violation of the road map -- and that show how a barrier snaking through the West Bank - jeopardizes Bush's two-state vision.

That's the only reference to the Road Map in the story. And the reference to "Arab East Jerusalem" as a subject of "settlement activity" is as much a reflection of Wafa Amr's open bias as it is to the Road Map, which clearly leaves the status of Jerusalem for the very end of the negotiating process.

That Reuters for you--and much of the rest of the media too. To Reuters, thanks to its loyal Palestinian apparatchik Wafa Amr, the Road Map applies to only one side--Israel.

If this was an old TV series, Reuters would undergo some kind of magical transformation and its amnesia would come to an end. Don't count on that happening to Reuters. Its bias is firmly entrenched, and the people to blame are not just hacks such as Amr but the editors at its headquarters in London. The only solution is for US newspapers, at the behest of their readers and advertisers, to dump Reuters.

Media Thumbsucker Watch

Today's quiz: What is the issue that gets media research outfits up in arms?

A. Media bias
B. Media inaccuracy
C. Journalists at the UN accepting payoffs
D. Overuse of anonymous sources
E. The gender of people quoted in stories

If you chose "E" you are, of course, correct. None of the first four issues that I cited is of any major interest to media watchdog groups. Sure, they occasionally will touch on those subjects, but usually to just defend the media from such accusations, or to take such a mushy position that nobody notices.

But if you're the Project for Excellence in Journalism, what really rings your chimes is the gender of people quoted in news stories. Are there enough women quoted in articles? Well, you'll be horrified to know that there aren't, according to the "Excellence" people, quoted in Editor & Publisher:

Cable news and the PBS NewsHour ranked lowest in terms of percentage of stories with at least one female source, at 19% and 17% respectively. Network TV came in at 27%, morning shows at 34%, news Web sites at 36%, and print newspapers at 41%.

In other words, what matters is not whether the sources are appropriate to the story or what they say. It is OK for a newspaper, for example, to quote a spokesman for a terrorist group justifying a suicide bombing--so long as that spokesman is a spokeswoman.

If you ever wondered why journalism is as abysmal as it so often is, one of the reasons is that the watchdogs are either wrapped up in trivia--such as writing puff pieces about each other--or focusing on this kind of PC pap.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The UN's Loyal Propagandists in Action

Ever since I read Accuracy in Media's fascinating expose', the first of several exposing journalists flacking for the UN while covering the UN, I've wondered what it's like to engage in such a creepy practice. I mean, how do these guys look at themselves in the mirror? What is it like to love the East River Debating Society so much that you would violate the fundamental conflict of interest and ethical rules of your profession?

I just got a clue to what it's like in an email today, a link to an actual Real Audio file of a "journalist" flacking for the UN in a UN-financed "fake news" show called UN Chronicle. This one is a corker, because the UN correspondent-flack who "hosted" this program, dated Feb. 10, 2004, was none other than Tony Jenkins, correspondent for a Portuguese newspaper and, at the time, president of the UN Correspondents Association.

That's right. The head of the UN reporter group was churning out UN propaganda in his spare time. I found it hard to believe when I first read it in the AIM report. But now I've seen one such show, and it is fascinating. Google "UN Chronicle" and watch more of them. Remember--these are your tax dollars at work.

This fake-news show was produced by the UN's bloated Ministry of Propaganda, its "Department of Public Information." Recently it emerged that you are paying for seven hundred professional propagandists and paper-pushers, all of whom are dedicated to putting out the word on what a great job the UN is doing. I ran an item on this a few days ago. I haven't seen anything about this subject in the media, even though it was raised by a UN correspondent at the daily press briefing.

Maybe the UN's loyal media contingent doesn't want to endanger future UN Chronicle gigs.

Keep in mind that UNCA head Jenkins did not appear on this show as a journalist. He was hosting it, functioning as a UN factotum. Here's an excerpt from the transcript on the web:

ANNOUNCER: From the United Nations in New York, an unedited interview programme on global issues. This is World Chronicle. And here is the host of today's World Chronicle.

JENKINS: Hello, I'm Tony Jenkins and this is World Chronicle. Mention the word `Congo' here at the United Nations and two things come to mind. One: a messy peacekeeping operation in the early 1960s, in which the UN's SecretaryGeneral, Dag Hammarskjold, died in a plane crash. The second is a massive, recent conflict ­ some called it "World War Three" ­ in which more than two and a half million people lost their lives.

Now the brushfire of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ­ or "DRC", in the language of diplomacy ­ has been extinguished. But the ashes are still smoldering. Can the UN bring peace to Africa's troubled heartland? Our guest today is William Lacy Swing, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo, also known as MONUC. Ambassador Swing, welcome to World Chronicle.

Also participating in the fake news show was Philippe Bolopion of Radio France Internationale, and Bill Reilly of United Press International.

According to the AIM article, a UN spokesperson said that journalists are paid to appear on the Chronicle "under some circumstances"--but he wouldn't say how much, or what those circumstances are.

Whether journalists are paid or not to appear on UN-produced programming is not really the issue.

What do you think would happen if Pentagon correspondents appeared on Pentagon-produced programming, or if White House correspondents appeared on White House-produced programming? The world of journalism would go bonkers. But this is the UN. UN correspondents get a pass.

As a matter of fact, when the U.S. government does fake-news programming that doesn't use "real journalists," media groups go ballistic.

Jenkins, as you'll recall, was exposed by FrontPage Magazine for supposedly using his clout with the UN propaganda apparatus--considerable clout, I would guess--to threaten dissident correspondents with revocation of their credentials.

It's almost as if the UN press corps lives in their own little cloud-cuckoo world, their ethical instincts dulled by too much exposure to foul air wafting off the East River.

Time for the rest of journalism to disown these mutts.

Quoting the Wrong Bradlee

Not The Real Ben Bradlee

Yesterday I described how Marketwatch columnist Jon Friedman quoted the movie Ben Bradlee--the character in All the President's Men as played by Jason Robards--to support his view that the Washington Post Company should back up Newsweek in the Koran-flush scandal.

Friedman might have talked instead to the real Ben Bradlee. He just slammed Newsweek for not promptly correcting the item. According to Editor & Publisher:

Bradlee also opposed Newsweek's use of a single source and its limited description of the source. "I don't like one source," he said. "And maximum sourcing is the first rule. Is it a man or a woman? Is it military or civilian? Is it Republican or Democrat? Help the reader a little bit."
Hmm.... too bad Jason Robards is deceased. Maybe Jon would have had better luck with him!

BBC Self-Serving Platitude Watch (continued)

Coverage of the continuing labor problems at the Beeb is bringing out still more self-serving platitudes from the ethics-deprived hacks who work there. This one, for example, in an article from the equally noxious Guardian, is especially luscious:

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said of the [job] action: "It
matters because broadcasting excellence, programme quality and journalistic integrity - all of the values the BBC strives for
- are at risk if these cuts go ahead as proposed."

Yessirree, that's a heck of a risk at the BBC. Keep on striving, bubby.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The "Conscience" of Great Britain?

The strike at the BBC (brought to my attention by Irwin Chusid--thanks!) has resulted in an interesting revelation. Apparently I've been all wrong about the Beeb. Get this:

"The savage cuts proposed will damage programming as well as the organization and will unravel British broadcasting traditions," said Mike Smallwood, national officer of the Amicus union.

"The BBC is a unifying British institution which acts as the nation's conscience but these redundancies will damage the U.K. at its core."

See that:"Conscience." Guess I was wrong, as I thought the BBC wasn't the "nation's conscience." I thought it was a collection of hacks who don't even pretend to be fair or objective.

I thought the Beeb was the epitome of bias, unremitting and relentless, in its coverage a number of issues--above all the Middle East. After all, it is no great revelation for me to say that the Beeb's correspondent in Israel, Orla Guerin, does everything but use pom-poms as she cheerleads for the Palestinian cause. When you get a debate on the BBC on the Middle East, you can be sure of hearing both sides of the issue--as long as both are anti-Israel. Backspin just expounded on that point yesterday.

Maybe when Smallwood talks about "British broadcasting traditions," that is what he means. A tradition of lousy journalism. Unravel that? Sounds good to me.

So I don't know. I like to see even faux journalists getting a decent raise. Maybe the solution is for them to not to strike but to quit--and get jobs as real journalists.

A Costly Mistake? Naaah......

Borrows from the movies

I know. Another Jon Friedman item. Hey, I hate to pick on the guy but... well, see for yourself:

On May 16, Marketwatch's media columnist took time out from writing hero-worship pieces about other media writers to to go a little overboard on the Newsweek-Koran controversy. In a hysterical column, Friedman called it “the most costly mistake in modern journalistic times.”

Well, Friedman has now reversed course. In a story this morning, quoting from the movie--not the book, the movie--All the President's Men, Friedman harkened back to the scene when "Benjamin Bradlee, played memorably by Jason Robards Jr.. . . declared: 'Let's stand by the boys.'"

Friedman now says that the whole Koran thing really wasn't such a terrible thing after all, and "The Post [company] should stick by the magazine and its editors" (just as that great actor did in the movie).

Hmm... Let me try to figure this out. ...Woodward and Berntein write investigative stories that bring down the president; Newsweek runs a one-source column that causes widespread embarrassment and is used by Islamic nuts as an excuse for murder.

Wow... you know what? He's right. Exact same situation! Thanks Jon!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Daily Hypocrite

Today's hypocrite is a group called Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. "FAIR"--you gotta love the acronym--describes itself as a "media watchdog group" and says it works "to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints."

One "media practice" that FAIR hates is conflicts of interest caused by journalists taking money. No sir. Bad! Bad! Recently a group called Reporters Without Borders got some publicity for taking money from the U.S. government's National Endowment for the Democracy while endorsing policies that are also advocated by the U.S. government. There has been an immense hue and cry from (surprise! surprise!) media groups that don't like policies advocated by the U.S. government. RWB responded that it takes positions not advocated by the U.S. government, and that it is not a lot of money.

Well, FAIR--an ostensibly non-partisan media-watch group--thinks that's a lot of baloney. In an article that ran on the FAIR website the other day, the group said that "the real question is why it accepts money from a U.S. government institution when it regularly has to evaluate that government's treatment of journalists," particularly in Iraq. Said FAIR, "Saying that the money is only 1.6 percent of the group's budget only prompts the question of why the group doesn't forego such a minor part of its income in order to avoid a major conflict of interest."

If any of this may sound familiar--well, it should. A bunch of UN correspondents recently were found to have taken money from the UN, and their defense is that it is not a lot of money. As described in articles by Accuracy in Media and FrontPage Magazine, the UN paid NBC and National Public Radio journalist Linda Fasulo to write a book glorifying the UN, and also hired The Nation's UN correspondent Ian Williams to conduct media training for UN personnel and to write pamphlets and appear on a UN TV show.

Williams, a fourth-rate hack known for his knee-jerk defense of Kofi Annan, brazenly defends his unethical conduct--saying that his appearances on UN TV don't give him a lot of money and he doesn't always shill for the UN in his published work. (True, he only talks about his payola from UN TV and not any of his other work for the UN, but let's put that slipperiness aside for the moment.)

Well, FAIR is "fair," right? They have got to be really exercised over this, you would think--and you would be wrong. Even though UN correspondents taking money from the UN is a gross violation of journalism ethics--far worse that a journalism group taking money from a government-backed foundation--FAIR has said not word one about this controversy, and actually distributed one of Williams's rants on the UN as he was being picked over by AIM.

So congratulations, FAIR! You're our Hypocrite of the Day.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Ithaca Journal Lays an Egg

Three weeks ago, the Ithaca (N.Y) Journal ran an anti-Semitic, Israel-bashing diatribe in the guise of a "Mother's Day column" by a local loon named Sandy Wold. Her comments became emblematic of the casual, almost knee-jerk anti-Semitism that is growing fashionable in some circles. Wold issued a non-apology apology, but one very important party to the mess remained silent: the Ithaca Journal.

What were its editors doing when Wold was ranting that "Zionist Jews in Israel have occupied Palestinian land in the name of God and victimhood"? Was it OK with them that a "guest columnist" had used Mother's Day to lash out at Jews? The Journal--a member of the mammoth Gannett chain--said nothing publicly, but Journal publisher James Fogler assured one reader in an email, a copy of which was sent to me, that he had spoken to the opinion page editor and "trust me, this will NOT happen again!"

Well, don't be so sure about that. The Journal finally broke its silence today. It published an apology from Wold, an op-ed piece in response, and a series of angry letters. OK, three weeks late--but basically a responsible reaction to this act of editorial goofiness by the Journal.

All is well and good until you come to the editorial. And it is so arrogant and infuriating in its cluelessness, so brain-dead in its stupidity, that it does a good job of detracting from all the other good stuff the Journal ran today.

The Journal, you see, sees nothing wrong with running an anti-Semitic diatribe in the form of a Mother's Day Column. Instead of acknowledging that it made a fairly big goof--as the publisher himself acknowledged--the Journal wrapped itself in the First Amendment. In a patronizing editorial that airily does not even mention the Wold embarassment, the Journal presented itself as a Zenger-like hero in a "freedom of speech" issue, and as a highly evolved example of the European Enlightenment in all its glory, facing down the forces of darkness.

I'm not making this up. Here's the beginning of this editorial, entitled, "Free Speech: Nothing Off the Table":

Wherever you are, if you're reading this, the European Enlightenment plays an important role in your life. After centuries of intellectual darkness, brutal religious repression and an even more brutal feudal society on that continent,
great minds on many fronts started to think there had to be a better way.
From Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes on through John Locke and Francois Voltaire, the ideas that changed the Western world poured forth, including this famous gem written by a biographer of Voltaire to sum up one of that great mind's tenents:
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

I swear. That is how these guys defend an anti-Semitic Mother's Day column. It gets worse: "Among the core principals [sic] that fought their way from heresy to self-evident truth during the centuries of the Enlightenment was the notion that people are rational, that when presented with arguments and evidence from all sides, people are capable of finding fact. This is how the great American stepchild of the Enlightenment, Thomas Jefferson, put it: "Truth is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear ...."

Excuse me? What has any of this got to do with your mistake? It's really simple: You guys weren't paying very close attention, so you let somebody make a casual, ignorant, anti-Semitic remark in a Mother's Day column. Any competent editor would have cut out those remarks--not because the editor was "against free speech" or "unenlightened," but because the remarks simply didn't belong there. If a competent editor had mistakenly allowed those remarks to go through, he would have issued a prompt apology.

I don't think the Journal is run by anti-Semites--simply incompetent journalists who haven't learned that when you make a mistake you admit it and move on.

One thing I will say about the editors of the Journal--they have lived up to the traditions of one of the outstanding dairy farming regions of this nation. Given half a chance, they have well and truly laid an egg.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The UN's Bloated Ministry of Propaganda

One thing that nobody denies, as even the UN’s staunchest defenders know that doing so would be silly, is that the UN’s bureaucracy is grotesquely bloated--at the expense of, to a large extent, the US taxpayer. That makes a lot of people mad.

Well, get ready to get madder: It seems that one of the most ridiculously bloated segments of that bureaucracy is the army of people whose job it is to spin, fold, and mutilate public perceptions of the UN. In other words, the “Department of Public Information,” or Ministry of Propaganda.

The UN’s pliant, sometimes bought-and-paid for press corps hasn’t written one word on this entire thing, but this embarrassing subject came up today at a daily press briefing, a transcript of which is available online. In answer to a question, a UN spokesman said that the East River Debating Society employs SEVEN HUNDRED flacks, propagandists and flack-support personnel.

That's right folks. 700. Four hundred in New York and three hundred in the field. And according to the correspondent who posed this question, the UN's Minister of Propaganda, DPI head Shashi Tharoor, "has been unable to identify a single post in DPI that he doesn’t think is essential for the continuation of DPI."

Asked about that, the UN spokesman didn't deny it and said weakly that Tharoor "has revamped the Department and is trying to maximize its resources within the mandates that are imposed on it by the Committee on Information."

Then came this exchange:

Question: Were you to have flexibility, would the UN significantly cut back, for example, on the number of employees in DPI?

UN Flack: I will get you figures on the DPI post mandated jobs.

Translation: Drop dead.

The spokesman also ducked and weaved in response to a correspondent's assertion that Minister of Propaganda Tharoor "has admittedly himself said that the United Nations has failed and DPI basically, he said, failed in, what you call, containing the bad image the United Nations has. What has he to say about that? That you have such a big staff and a budget, but you have not been able to function properly."

The response: "I think we have been able to function properly. I don’t know where you got that quote from, but we can talk later." (Out of earshot, that is.)

What's amazing is not that the UN has "failed" to propagandize, but that it propagandizes at all--at the expense of member state taxpayers, chiefly on these shores. Of course, I suppose that the UN can respond to this horrific failure in its "public relations" by beefing up its fat bureaucracy even more, or hiring correspondent-consultants like Ian Williams of The Nation to write pamphlets or provide media training, or by paying "journalists" like Linda Fasulo of NBC and National Public Radio to write books glorifying the UN.

Another thing that is interesting, but not surprising, is the fact that you haven't seen one word written about the UN's bloated Ministry of Propaganda in the mainstream media. Still, at least one correspondent seems interested. Good for him/her. Let's see if a story results.

Tag-Team Bias

The AP and Reuters, functioning in the manner of a tag team in an old-fashioned professional wrestling match, took turns providing biased accounts of Palestinian attacks in Gaza today. Both muddied up the difference between "attack" and "self-defence" in their stories.

First came Reuters, whose Gaza-based propagandist Nidal al-Mughrabi produced a story this morning headlined "Israeli forces kill Palestinian gunman in Gaza."

This headline obscures the fact this was a Palestinian murder expedition against a civilian settlement. The Reuters editors aren't dummies, by the way--they are very consciously making the headline biased. It would be a simple matter to write a neutral headline that would say and not obscure what actually happens. Such as "Settlement atttack thwarted."

Buried more than halfway in the story, the Reuters "news" service reported that "gunmen took over an abandoned building near Kfar Darom in southern Gaza and fired at the heavily fortified settlement with light arms and anti-tank rockets, the army said. A Hamas man was killed and another militant wounded in the ensuing gun battle with Israeli troops."

Note the term "heavily fortified," to make this seem like Fort Knox and not a civilian outpost that needed to "fortify," to prevent their people from being murdered.

As usual, Reuters turned over its "news" wirese to the terrorists: "'Amid continued Zionist crimes, we find ourselves with no choice but to defend our people by all means available,' Hamas spokesman Mushir Al-Masri said."

"Crimes" such as what? Being alive?

AP's turn came this afternoon with a story entitled--according to Yahoo; I'm not sure if this is the AP-supplied headline-- "Mideast Fighting Spills Over Into 3rd Day."

Whoever wrote that headline, Yahoo or AP, was deliberately obscuring the facts. So does the lead to the story: "Palestinian-Israeli fighting spilled over into a third straight day Friday with a coordinated attack by three militant groups on a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. One Palestinian was killed during a shootout with troops."

"Spilled over" implies a back-and-forth kind of warfare, when what happened was a series of Palestinian murder expeditions.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an editorial about how far we've come since the days when Ernie Pyle, the World War II correspondent, openly sided with the U.S. forces. In fact, we haven't come too far from those days at all, not in the Middle East.

Reuters and the AP skew their coverage in favor of the Palestinians through systematic, conscious use of words and language that mimimizes Palestinian attacks, and by letting their wires to be used for Palestinian propaganda.

Ernie Pyle Can Rest Easy Now

The Wall Street Journal published a letter today pointing out that the great war correspondent Ernie Pyle worked for Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, not the AP. This is not a small matter in the journalism biz. Ernie deserved better.

I pointed this out in a previous item. Just to be sure the Journal knew about it, I sent over an email to the Journal. No correction.

The Journal, in both its news and editorial pages, upholds the highest standards of journalism. That's why I'm a little dismayed. When an error is pointed out to a newspaper, you run a correction. You don't wait until someone writes a letter to the editor.

Today's Scoop: Wall Street Hires Lawyers!

New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer, who wrote the openly biased story on Donald Trump's Ground Zero plans yesterday, outdoes herself today with a front page article on an amazing phenomenon. Get this: Wall Street is hiring lawyers. Wow!

Steinhauer tells us that "lawyers who keep companies in compliance with increasingly tough regulatory laws have become a new prototype of the financial district." Excuse me? My dictionary says that "prototype" means "first thing or being of its kind," or "model for one of a later period," or "perfect example of a particular type." None would seem to apply even remotely to the hiring of lawyers on Wall Street. Either Times editors have run out of dictionaries or they just throw words on a page when they have nothing to say. (Grammatical quibble: "new prototype" is redundant.)

The Times had a choice. It could put "Wall Street hires lawyers" or "Six million threatened with death in Africa" on page one. Which would you choose as the more important story? We know what the Times chose.

The Suck-Up Watch (continued)


You've got to hand it to Marketwach media columnist Jon Friedman--his shamelessness, and the stupidity of his editors, knows no bounds. In today's installment of his multi-part series on media writers who, unlike Friedman, are taken seriously, we have Ken Auletta. Here's what we learn:
Chances are, the Walter Mitty in media reporters dreams of being Ken Auletta of the New Yorker.
Well, they might fantasize about having Auletta's journalistic gifts, anyway. And why not?

It gets worse.

Auletta has also written brilliant books....Despite his accomplishments, Auletta has remained humble. It wasn't a surprise that he doesn't put much stock in my contention that he serves as a role model.
Neither would anyone, this being a unsubtle, derriere-kissing puff piece utterly devoid of credibilty. It is also an excellent example of skewed priorities at a time when the media deserves serious scrutiny.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The UN's Priorities Revealed

If you ever suspected that the UN's priorities might be just a little teeny bit off-kilter, just take a look at a publication called "UN Daily News" for yesterday. This is an official organ of the Debating Society on the East River, and its purpose is to describe all the good stuff going on in that asbestos- and anti-Semitism-contaminated building.

The first item of business yesterday was, of course, the Middle East. Well, you know how it is. The Middle East--with all the opportunities that come with it for bashing Israel--is oxygen to the UN. Some UN bureaucrat briefed the Security Council. Routine.

Way down on page four we have--well, what is this? What is that number? "Six million West Africans face famine because of locusts and drought, UN says."

No kidding? Another six million dead. How interesting! Here is an excerpt from that item:

In some areas of Mauritania, northern Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, the prices of food, especially millet, have as much as doubled, [a UN agency] said, while the prices for undernourished cattle and other livestock have plummeted.
Children younger than 5 in Mauritania, Mali and Niger are suffering from rapidly spreading malnutrition and in Niger many villagers have been feeding themselves with wild plants, it said.

Sounds like a pretty bad situation. Better act fast! Better double aid to the corrupt, terror-ridden Palestinian Authority.

On page five we have more trivia. Starvation in Darfur. No kidding?

Not one word on any of this impending starvation and genocide from the third- , fourth- and fifth-rate hacks of the UN press corps, or even any of the few representatives of the major media there. The AP did have a story on an appeal for funds out of Geneva, which got very little pickup. (Still, this might present a business opportunity for The Nation's UN correspondent-media-consultant Ian Williams. Hey Ian! Head on over to the UN. Maybe they'll want you to write a pamphlet on this.)

Brooks Hits the Nail on the Head

Just so you don't think I hate everything in the New York Times, I must point out that David Brooks' column on the Newsweek "toiletgate" controversy is right-on. The issue isn't Newsweek, it is radical Islam.

As a number of commentators have pointed out, and as I failed to do in my own take on the thing a few days ago, Muslims rarely get so excercised when their co-religionists show disrespect for other religions--as when the Taliban destroyed ancient Buddhist statues, or when Palestinian mobs desecrated Joseph's Tomb on the West Bank or the Church of the Nativity in Bethelehem in 2002.
I'd like to get the press coverage off Newsweek, and onto that. (It's not happening, of course, but I'd still like it.) However lousy the Newsweek coverage, the ultimate issue is that wacko Islamic mobs exploited that lousy coverage. Brooks is right--they're the real enemy.

The Daily Bias--today's edition

Our installment today comes from the always reliable Greg Myre of the New York Times. His piece today isn't too terrible--good lordy, we know how awful the Times can be when it really tries!--but take a look at this:

The piece describes how Israeli jets attacked Gaza for the first time since a "truce" was declared three months ago.

The airstrike came during one of two exchanges of gunfire in southern Gaza that left one Palestinian militant dead and several wounded, while one Israeli civilian was slightly wounded, each side said.

No, Greg. The civilian wasn't caught up in an "exchange of gunfire." As you point out, that civilian was hurt in an attempt by Palestinians to randomly murder Israelis.

Then he says:

Wednesday's events reflected the fragile nature of a truce that has greatly reduced the overall level of violence since February but has not silenced the guns.

No, Greg, it reflects the outcome of violations of the truce by the Palestinians, specifically Hamas, by aiming inaccurate lethal devices at human beings, as we just mentioned.

We then have the usual amoral Times moral-equivalency pas de deux, a statement from the Israeli foreign ministry and from the people Greg just described as trying to radomly murder Israelis.

Then Greg says,

Gaza has been mostly calm in recent days, and Hamas has been observing the truce.

But if "Hamas has been observing the truce," who's that trying to randomly murder Israelis? The Corleone crime family?

In fact, Hamas has stepped up its violence against Israelis. Ha'aretz reports as follows:

On Wednesday, one Israeli was lightly wounded by mortar shells and anti-tank rockets launched by Hamas. A Hamas man was killed by an accidental explosion of a bomb he was preparing, and another activist in the organization was seriously wounded in an Israel Air Force missile strike and later died in a Gaza hospital.

This is how Greg reported the above:

The trouble on Wednesday began before dawn when Palestinians fired antitank rockets and automatic rifles at Israeli soldiers along Gaza's border with Egypt, prompting return fire from the soldiers, the Israeli military said.
Note the reference to "Palestinians," thereby allowing Greg to exonerate Hamas, in accordance with Times policy.

According to Ha'aretz, "Palestinians have fired 65 mortar shells and Qassam rockets at Gaza settlements and nearby Israel Defense Forces positions since Wednesday, the Gaza Coast Regional Council said Thursday."

Some truce. Some "observance" thereof by Hamas. Nice going, Greg Myre!

Dumping on Trump

Look, I am no fan of Donald Trump, and people can disagree in good faith about his plan for Ground Zero, which involves rebuilding the twin towers in very much their old form. But The Donald most definitely didn't deserve the openly biased trashing that he got in the New York Times today.

OK, I know concepts like "objectivity" and "fairness" are a bit too much to expect from the Times nowadays, particularly concerning a self-promoter like Trump, but his idea deserves serious consideration. Instead, the Times's Jennifer Steinhauer sneers throughout, stacking the deck by not saying one single positive thing about Trump's plan. Instead we have uniformly negative quotes, such as the one from the relative of one survivor who said that "The towers are not a memorial to the people who died there . . .If anything it is a bitter reminder of how people died."

Well, that's his opinion. I happen to know a lot of people who went through 9-11 who feel that rebuilding the towers is precisely the right solution.

Overall, a pretty dismal piece. It probably won't get much attention because Trump is a public figure who gets slammed all the time. But it is really one of the best examples I've found recently of the shoddy journalism that is all too often practiced by the Times.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Reuters Outdoes Itself

Little Green Footballs this morning busted the Reuters "news" service for a particularly atrocious report out of Gaza. So far today the item has drawn 663 comments, and counting. That's a lot.

Reuters, once a giant of the news business, has lately become a purveyor of tawdry, thinly disguised anti-American and Israel-bashing propaganda. It's really a disgrace, and it's not going to stop.

My suggestion to those 663 people is this--it's great to comment on the Net, but even better to write a letter to your local paper and tell it to dump Reuters.

The UN Has a Bad Image? Naah....

The website of the UN Forum is ordinarily a lot of inside-baseball chitchat, written by UN hacks for UN bureaucrats and the pliant UN press corps. But a couple of recent entries, posted within the past few days, stand out. The subject was the UN's image. Apparently it stinks! Oh my. How terrible.

One of the pieces trashes the UN's chief flack, Shashi Tharoor, described here as an "unabashed self promoter [who] failed completely in defending the organization that embraced him."

Another piece, which also trashes Tharoor, says that the $1 billion that Ted Turner gave to the UN, a lot of it for PR-related stuff apparently, was flushed down the toilet:

Eventually, it transpired that some of these projects -- let alone those sponsored benefits -- were like buying fish while it was still in the sea.
The Communications projects in particular turned out to be almost like travel junkets, particularly financing tours around the world by self-promoter Shashi Tharoor while the U.N. image was plummeting to an unprecedented low.

Junkets? Seems they're taking their ethical cues from the shills and two-bit hacks of the UN press corps.

Which reminds me: Ian Williams, are you there? Better drop everything and get on over to the UN. You're needed!

Galloway's Non-Rebuttal

The Reuters account of George Galloway's confrontation with the Senate yesterday is headlined as follows: British MP rebuts Iraq claims, takes on Senate.

Uh, "rebut"? I don't think so. The word means "to contradict or oppose by formal legal argument, plea, or countervailing proof." All Galloway did was blow smoke. There is the little matter of all those documents.....

Man Bites Dog: Friedman Derides Fluff!

Gotta love the guy

Marketwatch's media columnist Jon Friedman has the following words of encouragement for Newsweek:
I hope Newsweek doesn't buckle--and I doubt that it will. I'd be surprised if it pulled back the reins and started publishing squishy, fluffy cover stories as a way to get the critics off its back.
Nor should it overcompensate for this crisis by going out of its way to show that it is hanging tough by printing gratuitous stories about Bush or the military.

This from the author of a series of puff pieces on other media columnists, who then overcompensates by bashing Newsweek. Got to say this about Friedman -- he's always good for a laugh.

Salon Comes Clean--Not

Salon yesterday had a story entitled "Pundits for Money." My first reaction on seeing that was, "Aha! Salon is finally going to come clean about its use of the admitted Payola Pundit, Ian Williams!"

Williams, of course, is the fourth-rate hack who covers the United Nations for The Nation, even though he has worked for the UN in the past and still uses his UN work in advertising for business. The Nation has made a feeble attempt to disclose this brazen conflict of interest, but Salon runs Williams' retchings without disclosing his work for the UN, which violates the most fundamental principles of journalism ethics. You don't take money from the people you write about. Period.

As described in a previous item, Williams' peccadilloes are just one example of rampant ethical anorexia at the UN press corps, as revealed by Accuracy in Media and FrontPage Magazine.

Alas, Salon has yet to come clean. Its piece yesterday was on the Times charging readers for online access to its columnists. That rather trivial form of "Pundits for Money" has Salon in a tizzy, but not using a "correspondent" who takes money from the UN while shilling for the East River Debating Society in his writings. Go figure.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

He Means Well

Inconsistent Bloviator

Backspin has a thought-provoking item on the intelligent but congenitally inconsistent Brit writer, Christopher Hitchens. While attacking those who call Iraqi terrorists "insurgents," at other times he speaks with considerably greater warmth on the Palestinian cause.

Hitchens can't be classed with the half-baked ideologues and fifth-rate Fleet Street bozos who infest British and British-expatriate-in-the-U.S. journalism. He very publicly split from the left after September 11th, and gained many enemies in the process. However, Hitchens does seem to have a blind spot on the Israel-Palestinian dispute. Note the following from an interview with him in FrontPage Magazine:

The Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot agreement preceded the Palestine Mandate, and planned for a disastrous partition of the region which we are still (or those of us who know about it) compelled to regret.

As my mother would say, Hitchens "means well." (The "those of us who know about it" comment is only mildly condescending by British standards.) But he still has an engrained Marxist-British hostility to Zionism, colored by both far-left brain-washing and post-imperialist guilt, that poisons his thinking.

Note the quote above. I've picked one of the less hysterical and more rational passages from his FrontPage interview. What his analysis ignores is that the Sykes-Picot agreement never amounted to anything, and that the Balfour Declaration didn't "plan" for a future partition by any stretch of the imagination. Hitchens further ignores that the first partition was the one that snapped off Trans-Jordan from Palestine in the 1920s, and that the 1947 partition plan, rejected by the Palestinians, would have provided an Arab state considerably larger than anything possible today. To my knowledge, neither the partition that created Trans-Jordan nor the rejection of the '47 partition plan ever penetrates the prejudiced skulls of British Zionistphobes (or the media generally, for that matter).

Now, keep in mind that this is a fellow who is basically intelligent and independent-minded. Combine this kind of engrained hostility to Zionism with a more rigidly leftist mindset, and you have a good idea of the wretchedness of the British intelligentsia today.

Ernie Would Not Be Pleased

The Wall Street Journal today ran a thoughtful editorial on the Newsweek imbroglio that contained the following passage:

Long gone are the days when AP's Ernie Pyle -- an ace reporter by the standards of any era -- could use the pronoun "we" in describing the Allied struggle against the Axis.

How true. Except that this great journalist worked for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain, not the AP. I have asked the Journal to correct its error. Let's see what they do. Hopefully they'll be more forthcoming than the New York Times, which has steadfastly refused to correct a worse error.

Miller Time at the Christian Science Monitor

A couple of days ago, the Snapshots blog pointed out a big, fat goof in an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times by a serial op-ed writer named Aaron David Miller. Miller heads a group called Seeds for Peace, which takes the usual Peace Now line but is nevertheless called upon by Israel-bashing news organizations to represent the "pro-Israel point of view."

In his LA Times bloviation, Miller weepily lamented as follows:

Without access to military or national service and constantly under suspicion as a potential fifth column, the status of Israeli Arabs is indeed nation-dividing.

Only one problem: Not true. Israeli Arabs can, and many do, serve in the military.

Not only did neither the LA Times or Miller do anything to fix their error, but only today, the Christian Science Monitor repeated Miller's piece, error and all.

The Ithaca Journal's Silence (continued)

More than two weeks after the Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal let local wacko Sandy Wold engage in an anti-Semitic rant, the Gannett newspaper is finally gearing up to, maybe, say something in public about it. Woop-de-do.

A reader who has been in touch with Journal editors says some kind of “apology” (probably a non-apology apology of the kind Wold has posted on the Internet) will run this coming Saturday. That’s three whole weeks after this pinhead bigot spouted off.

The Journal should have long since retracted that column. Its failure to do so is not just irresponsible, but also inexplicable. Makes you wonder why, doesn’t it?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek Puts Out the Fire--Not

Lots of wailing over the Koran tempest at Newsweek, two of whose top reporters are really on the hot seat at the moment. Typical of the hysteria is the increasingly moronic Jon Friedman of Marketwatch, who alternates between diabetes-inducing puff pieces and schoolmarmish rants, such as his overblown retching today. Friedman can't seem to see the difference between a deliberate lie of the Jayson Blair variety and the mistake, however horrific, made by Newsweek.

I'm as quick to lash the media as the next guy, but let's look at what happened here. Did the Koran get flushed down the toilet or not? I don't know. But before we tar and feather the reporters involved, let's see what happened.

According to a Newsweek article on the subject:

[investigative reporter Michael Isikoff] called "a longtime reliable source, a senior U.S. government official who was knowledgeable about the matter. The source told Isikoff that the report would include new details that were not in the FBI e-mails, including mention of flushing the Qur'an down a toilet."

An editor's note says roughly the same thing.

Isikoff and a colleague tried to get a second source, couldn't. Asked for comment. Got none. Went with the piece. Firestorm. Source recants.

Well, I hate to throw cold water on all the outrage, but I have to say: What these two reporters did was not especially unusual in journalism, and met minimal journalism standards. A source misled them. Newsweek may have rules requiring multiple sourcing in such instances. But if only one source is allowed by Newsweek's procedures--well, then you can't go out and hang the reporters involved. The culprit here is a scoop-hungry Newsweek, but I'd hate to see two good reporters get fed to the wolves as a result.

Remember that Isikoff was hot on the Lewinsky story back in the days when it was politically correct to turn a blind eye toward Clinton's transgressions. So he is definitely a top guy in the business, not a third-rate chump trying to make the administration look bad.

The Trivia-aholic Strikes Again

Is this guy for real?

Sorry, but Marketwatch's ostensible media columnist, Jon Friedman, is becoming my Terry Schiavo. I just can't get over this guy's fixation on trivia at a time when the media is going to hell.

Today, with Newsweek's mega-mistake getting front-page headlines, and a host of lesser stories clamoring for attention, Friedman focuses on New York's little free-distribution tabloids. Friedman likes them, natch. "Say, these freebie papers aren't bad," says the headline. Thanks, Jon. Go back to sleep.

Israel is Born--AP & Reuters Mourn

Media coverage of yesterday's Israel Independence Day provide some of the best examples you could find of the systematic anti-Israel bias that pervades the world press.

Only Israel's national day is defined by the people seeking to destroy that country. In story after story, beginning with CNN last night and continuing today, the pattern was the same: Palestinians lamenting that horrific day. Imagine July 4 coverage from the Al Qaeda perspective, or British national holidays covered from the IRA perspective, and you have the kind of bias in evidence today.

Much of the skewed coverage picked up a story by the always-reliable PA shill, Mohammed Daraghmeh of the Associated Press. Here's how it moved on the ABC website:

"Palestinians Lament Founding of Israel"
"Palestinian Rallies Mournfully Commemorate Day Israel Was Created 57 Years Ago"
"RAMALLAH, West Bank May 15, 2005 — With sirens and rallies, Palestinians on Sunday mournfully commemorated the anniversary of what they call "Al Nakba," or "the catastrophe" the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of their people with the 1948 creation of the state of Israel.

"While Israelis held barbecues, concerts and launched fireworks to celebrate the 57th anniversary of their independence Thursday according to the date on the Hebrew calendar Palestinians see the day very differently."

Here's how Reuters covered that awful day, in a story from its house Palestinian shill:

"Abbas: Refugee Redress Key to Peace"
"By Mohammed Assadi
"RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Sirens wailed on Sunday to mark Palestinians' "Nakba" (catastrophe) of 1948 and President Mahmoud Abbas said there could be no peace without redress for refugees uprooted by Israel's creation.

"Palestinians on foot and in cars stopped and stayed still for two minutes at midday throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip to mournfully commemorate the establishment of theJewish state as their own disaster.

"Thousands of Palestinians staging Nakba protest rallies said Israel's planned pullout from Gaza did not address what they called a refugee "right of return" to what is now the Jewish state, a demand it has long rejected as demographic suicide.

"Abbas, 69, who as a boy joined the refugee exodus, did not repeat 'the right of return' mantra but said advancing peace efforts beyond a tenuous ceasefire would require 'a just and agreed solution' for refugees and a state for Palestinians."

And so it went in story after story--Israel's founding through the eyes of its worst enemies, people who conveniently forget that this day they call the "catastrophe" actually commemorates a partition plan that would have created a Palestinian state far vaster than now contemplated. A good take on the amnesia and hysteria at work here can be found in a piece yesterday on the website of the Palestinian Media Watch.

This rewriting of history that you see everywhere, beginning with CNN yesterday and led by the AP and Reuters, is not just grossly biased-- it is simply lousy journalism.

UPDATE: A reader tells me that late on May 11 AP did indeed run a story on Israel's independence day from Israel. CBS's New York outlet picked up the story the following day, but the Palestinian-oriented version received much more pickup globally.

There's nothing wrong with a news outlet reporting the protests in Gaza--if that is not their only coverage of Israel Independence Day. What is wrong is blind adoption of the Palestinian amnesia and self-delusion implicit in that very word, "Nakba." It would not be a "Nakba" for those folks if their leaders had accepeted the 1947 UN partition plan. That's all it would take--one sentence saying, "Palestinian leaders in 1947 did not accept a partition plan that would have established an Arab state alongside a Jewish state, with Jerusalem internationalized." That's all--one sentence, to prevent their coverage of the "Nakba" from becoming an outlet for Palestinian propaganda.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

CNN Laments the "Crime" of 1948

Sandy Wold Writes Her Copy?

Sandy Wold, the New Age anti-Israel wacko who recently worked a Jew-baiting diatribe into a guest column at the Ithaca Journal, has apparently received gainful employment--writing news copy for CNN.

That's the conclusion that I am forced to draw from the 11:15 p.m. news summary this evening, read by a straight-faced Carol Lin. Seems that Israel just celebrated Independence Day. But CNN--with Sandy Wold or some other Palestinian advocate at the keyboard--gave it the just right spin.

"Palestinians Commemorate Catastrophe" was the title of the news item, illustrated by a shot of Palestinian-flag-waving demonstrations Gaza, as Lin said in her usual chirpy style that Palestinians throughout the occupied territories commemorated what Mohammed Abbas described as a "crime."

That was it--CNN's objective and fair reporting Israel Independence Day. Let us congratulate Sandy on her new job!

If Okrent Knew

Good analysis on the CAMERA website yesterday debunking the claims of a pro-Palestinian wacko group called "If Americans Knew."

The sad thing is that CAMERA had to make this analysis, and not the New York Times--which was, after all, the target of their nonsensical allegations that the notoriously pro-Palestinian Times was "ignoring the deaths of Palestinian children." Instead, Public Editor Dan Okrent latched on to these wackos' rantings as an excuse not to make a thorough examination of Times coverage of the Middle East. (As discussed in an earlier item, such "convenient critics" come in handy for news organizations seeking to ignore genuine allegations of bias.)

Today Okrent turned over his column to letters from readers, which takes considerably less effort than analyzing Times coverage. Hurry up, Calame!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Ithaca Journal's Silence Broken?

For the past week, the Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal, part of the Gannett chain, has been silent in the face of a national uproar over an anti-Semitic outburst on May 7 by "guest columnist" Sandy Wold. The latter's ravings were a byproduct of brain-dead editing on the part of the editors of the Journal, who allowed some nitwit to rant--in an ostensible "essay on Mother's Day"--that "Zionist Jews in Israel have occupied Palestinian land in the name of God and victimhood."

The pinhead herself issued a non-apology apology on the Internet, but nothing appeared in the paper. Ithaca, as we all know, is in the bucolic Great Lakes region of New York. Have all the editors up there gone fishing?

Well, a reader tells me that a Journal exec assured him in an email that an apology will appear in today's edition, and also indicated emphatically that there will be no repetition of this unfortunate incident. (The exec's lame excuse for the delay was that it would appear on Saturday because the pinhead's column was on Saturday.)

That's all for the good. However, as of this morning, no such apology has appeared on the Journal's website.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Israpundit Scoops the Media-Watchers

A fascinating item on the sliminess and pro-Palestinian bent of the overseas press corps in Israel appeared today on Israpundit. Dani Seaman, who is director of the Israel Government Press Office, is cracking down on abuses by the hacks stationed there.

The Israpundit item, correctly titled "About Time," is compelling for many reasons. Here's the most serious allegation:

Seaman charges that under direct orders of Yasser Arafat, foreign media representatives such as Reuters, AP, CNN, ABC and CBS have for years employed Palestinian editors and directors who determine news content. According to sources that Seaman will not reveal for fear that they would suffer professional and perhaps personal retribution, Palestinian employees of these news outlets are fully coordinated.
The Israpundit piece goes on and on in that regard, naming names. I strongly suggest going to the link and reading it.

Here's my question, one that I have asked several times in the past: Where are the media watchdogs? Why won't CJR, Romanesko etc. touch any of this stuff? Why is it more likely you'll read a puff piece of the Jon Friedman variety or some trash about a minor spat somewhere than anything about the serious issues Israpundit is raising?

The Suck-Up Watch (a continuing series)

Lays it on thick

In the latest installment in his series of hard-hitting articles on media writers, Jon Friedman of Marketwatch -- a business-news website that is otherwise pretty good -- has the following to say about Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz:
Thanks to his high productivity and visibility, Kurtz does more than anyone else to keep the media industry honest....

Kurtz wins accolades in the industry for being reliable, knowledgeable and, above all, open minded. That's no small compliment at a time....

Above all, Kurtz remains grounded. I got an inkling of this when I asked him the classic question: Who is your dream interview? He flashed a pained expression and muttered, "I don't do well in questions like this."

Kurtz, a likable, no-frills straight-shooter, takes pleasure in good-naturedly busting people, as I found out. When I told him that I'd recently encountered some of his colleagues at a party in tony Bethesda, Md., he shot back: "Is that where you do your digging?"

You have to wonder why Marketwatch is serving up this drivel. We know how it helps Friedman -- always good for the career to butter up the more influential members of the media-watching fraternity. But it kinda makes you wonder what his employers stand to gain from publishing this pap.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Non-Apology (update)

I see that the Sandy Wold kerfuffle, involving an anti-Semite who "apologized" online about a newspaper column, is continuing in the comments column of the Backspin blog. Wold has come on to reply, and everybody is having a high old time.

That's just ducky--except for the fact that, as I previously observed, Wold has yet to apologize to her readers. She made her original remarks in the pages of the Ithaca Journal. Her comment passed, no doubt, through several layers of editors.

As best as I can determine, not having the honor of living in that town, the Ithaca Journal hasn't apologized, genuinely or even the faux apology of the kind made by Wold. It has not explained its position on the matter or said a word on the subject publicly.

The culpability of the Journal--a member of the publicly-held Gannett chain--deserves more scrutiny than it has received to date. As usual, the media watchdogs that should be all over this like a cheap suit--Romanesko, CJR, where are you?-- are nowhere to be found.

Forgotten Book (follow-up)

Yesterday I described how not one but two New York Times book reviews had exaggerated just a tad--well, a whole lot actually--the earth-shattering quality of Timser Roger Cohen's Soldiers and Slaves. The reviews failed to disclose that Cohen had been scooped eleven years ago by another book, Forgotten Victims. Naughty, naughty! Definitely worthy of an "editor's note," which the Times reserves for major editorial lapses.

Just for the hell of it, I sent a copy of my item yesterday to the Times corrections department.

Well, folks, I am please to report that the Times has acted swiftly. Today it ran a correction on its review! I have to admit, this is a very responsible reaction to the..... hey, wait a second. The review doesn't correct the big boo-boo. Instead it picks at two nits: the book "misstated the timing of the transport of American prisoners to the Berga slave labor camp in Germany. It was in February 1945, not December 1944. The review also misidentified the home country of Mordecai Hauer, a Jewish prisoner who was at Berga with the Americans. It was Hungary, not Austria."

Still waiting for the Times to tell its readers about the canyon-sized omission in its two reviews of the Cohen book. Just a matter of time I'm sure.

Incidentally, I hope I did not imply yesterday that Cohen was receiving favored treatment because he is a Times staffer. Perish the thought! No doubt every author who writes one of the four or five thousand books that come out about World War II every year gets a rave review in the daily and Sunday Times. No doubt every one of them gets Tom Brokaw to write the rave review. If I implied otherwise, please forgive me!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Non-Apology Apology

Wold should apologize to her readers

Much has been made about the recent spurt of Jew-baiting out in Ithaca, N.Y., where a New Age loon named Sandy Wold wrote a column for the Ithaca Journal saying "Zionist Jews in Israel have occupied Palestinian land in the name of God and victimhood."

The above was picked up by and , and the result was the usual firestorm of criticism and avalanche of letters. According to an item that appeared in Backspin, Wold apologized. But what has been submerged in this is that this was really a non-apology apology.

First of all she didn't retract any of her hateful comments, but rather just wimped out under pressure and "regretted my lack of sensitivity to and inclusiveness of your group's perspective and experience in my article." Whoa now. What's that supposed to mean? That she should have added a sentence saying, "but these Zionist Jews are really sincere people"?

Moreover, she did not apologize for her anti-Semitic outburst in the appropriate forum, which would have been the pages of the Ithaca Journal. That, and an editor's note explaining that this brainless bigot will no longer be allowed in its pages, would have been satisfactory redress for her tawdry little outburst. Hasn't happened yet--if ever. So let's hold the applause.

Forgotten Book

Preceded Cohen's book by 11 years

One of the nice things about being a Times editor or writer like Roger Cohen, former head of the foreign desk, is that any book you write will be reviewed. And not just reviewed, but reviewed favorably--often by both the daily and Sunday book review sections. That is true whether you write tedious drivel, like Chris Hedges' odious War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, or a decent tome such as Cohen's account of Americans imprisoned in concentration camps, Soldiers and Slaves. The latter book was reviewed in the Times today (a rave, natch) by Tom Brokaw (another perk of being a Times editor-author is that your books get reviewed by Tom Brokaw and not Tom Shmidlap).

I'm sure Soldiers and Slaves is a good book. But contrary to what you might think if you read Brokaw's review, this is not the very first account of Americans imprisoned in the camps. Forgotten Victims by Mitchell G. Bard, published in 1994, laid out the whole grisly story in compelling detail.

Isn't that remarkable? Not one but two Times reviews, and neither mentioned that the story of GIs in concentration camps was told a decade ago. Neither Brokaw nor the review in the Sunday section on May 1 mentioned Bard's book, which is still in print for heaven's sake!

Brokaw misleadingly lumps in Cohen's book with "the discovery of the little-known episodes that constantly expands our appreciation, fascination and revulsion for the brutal clash of civilizations in the heart of the 20th century." If anybody did any "discovering," it was Bard, not Cohen.

I haven't seen Soldiers and Slaves, but I have to presume that he gave due credit to Bard's previous work. Whether he did or not, the two Times reviewers, particularly given the fact their reviews were a well-known Times courtesy, should have mentioned Bard' s book. They should not have implied, as they did, that Cohen's book was in any way exclusive or original. That was unfair to Bard and does readers a disservice.

Just for the heck of it I'm forwarding a copy of this item to the Times. Let's see if they run a correction or clarification (duly crediting this blog, of course!). Don't hold your breath.....