Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Empty Suit Interviews Himself

I'm on the road this week, but I did check in with the New York Times today and found something unusual. The Empty Suit, Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame, had an interview on Sunday with himself.

Now I realize this was billed as an interview with the Times' "standards editor," Allan Siegal. But since Calame himself is a management shill, it really read like the kind of Q&A that people write up sometimes in which they both ask and answer the questions.

Anyway, I am glad that the Empty Suit got off his divan. Gotta do that every now and then, to avoid bed sores!

Monday, August 22, 2005

I said this a few days ago, but now I really mean it: This blog will be appearing a good deal more sporadically than usual for the next few weeks, because of the press of other business.

But rest assured, Mediacrity is no "empty suit." We will not be snoozing on the divan. Keep those cards and letters comin g in.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Rich Defends the "Mainstream Mama"

Frank Rich's usual bloated, overlong column today comes running to the defence of the Gold Star Moron, Cindy Sheehan, as follows:

Once Ms. Sheehan could no longer be ignored, the Swift Boating began. Character assassination is the Karl Rove tactic of choice, eagerly mimicked by his media surrogates, whenever the White House is confronted by a critic who challenges it on matters of war.

Yeah, Karl and I were discussing that at dinner the other day. Rich goes on to say, "The hope this time was that we'd change the subject to Cindy Sheehan's 'wacko' rhetoric and the opportunistic left-wing groups that have attached themselves to her like barnacles. That way we would forget about her dead son."

Sheehan hasn't forgotten her dead son. That is true. How could she? At every opportunity she spits on his memory, by crassly exploiting his death, and not just to "protest the war" -- hey, I for one would have nothing to say about her if that's all it was. What gets my goat is that she uses his death to advance a far-left and sometimes anti-Semitic agenda that drew endorsements from David Duke and neo-Nazis.

Though she has distanced herself from some of those statements, people who just love her ravings--the anti-American Electronic Iraq website, for example -- were the ones who publicized them in the first place. She didn't lamely disavow her toxic words when people appauded them.

I am sure that Rich has Internet access and can read all the noxious ranting that Sheehan has produced. It doesn't bother him because he agrees with her. He agrees with crap like this, taken directly off not some "pro-Bush blog" but the Electronic Iraq website:

"And the other thing I want him to tell me is 'just what was the noble cause Casey died for?' Was it freedom and democracy? Bullshit! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. We're not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT Act. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism."

That's "mainstream" as far as the Frank Rich and the New York Times are concerned. To them, she's not a Gold Star Moron. She's a Mainstream Mama.

UPDATE: The American Thinker makes the following very good point:

Ed Lasky adds:
Notice the whitwashing of the anti-Semitism-swept under the rug. The NYT just cannot report any instances of anti-Semitism (Conyers meeting, this column, Friedman's name-dropping columns involving Saudi princes, etc. ad nauseum.

The Times' Op-Ed "Process" Falls Flat

The New York Times op-ed page today contains a predictable piece on the Gaza withdrawal from a Palestinian shill named Daoud Kuttab -- predictable in the sense of containing blatant falsehoods.

"Many Palestinians compared the kid-glove treatment given to the protesting settlers (who will be handsomely compensated) with the violent response to even peaceful Palestinian protests." When was the last time you heard of a "Palestinian protest" that didn't involve rock throwing or worse?

"Irrespective of the facts that Jewish settlements are illegal and that the Palestinian refugee problem was created by Israeli military force..." Two in one sentence. There is nothing in international law that prevented Jews from moving voluntarily onto state land in Gaza, and the refugee problem was, of course, created by the massive Arab invasion of the new state of Israel.

As I said, nothing new here. Where would a Palestinian propagandist be without lies? There'd be nothing to say otherwise. The problem is that we were just told by the Empty Suit, the New York Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame that op-ed pages are carefully edited, not just slapped on the page.

In his much-ridiculed July 17 column, the Times spokesman Calame said that words had been put in the mouth of an Op-Ed page contributor as part of a careful editorial process the Times uses with its "non-professional" writers. Gee, isn't fact-checking part of the "process" at every newspaper?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Friedman Flumbles Sheehan

Undefeated Champ

The World's Worst Media Columnist, Jon Friedman of Marketwatch, defended his title yesterday in a column on the Cindy Sheehan media circus.

He had a golden opportunity to write about the media's failure to mention Gold Star Moron's extremist views. Instead he turns out one of his usual puff pieces, interviewing a USA Today reporter and coming up with zilch.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Julius Streicher of Hartford

Three heils for Bob Englehart!

The Julius Streicher Memorial Award goes to Bob Englehart of the Hartford Courant, for this outstanding example of the spirit, if not the cartoonist style, of the beloved publisher of the late, lamented Der Sturmer.

All Bob needs is a whip, and I can see him striding through the streets of Franconia. Let's all stand up and give Bob a hearty Sieg Heil!

P.S. If you want to send Bob an email of encouragement and thanks, his email address is benglehart@courant.com. A brief congratulatory note to the editorial page editor, who put his stamp of approval on the cartoon, is also in order! His name is Bob Schrepf, and he is at rschrepf@courant.com

Thursday, August 18, 2005

An Unreality Check at the Times

The New York Times lead editorial today on Gaza hews closely to the Sulzberger Indifference Template, as it tries to counterbalance the anguished news out of Gaza with a "reality check." Gaza was beyond the 1949 lines, blah blah blah, ignoring that the armistice lines were just that, and that the final borders were never determined.

Typical Times editorial-page skewing. But then the editorial goes on to say this:

But it's past time - 38 years past, to be exact - to give the Palestinians there a chance at a better life.
I can find no better example of the Sulzberger Template at work than in this one sentence. The Israeli occupation began 38 years ago, but it was preceded by an Egyptian occupation that commenced in 1949, during which Palestinians were herded into squalid camps, fed a diet of hate. and during that entire time nothing was done to either improve their conditions or provide them with an independent state on that land.

None of this matters to the Times editorialists in their skewed, pro-Palestinian (note reference to the 1947 UN resolution as creating a "Zionist" state) version of events. This is the version of "reality" you expect from people for whom "terrorism" is getting bad sturgeon at Zabar's.

The Times? Liberal? Naaah.....

The New York Times spokesman (AKA "public editor") Barney Calame has dusted off his cobweb-covered "web journal" to finally mumble a few words about the Times' grudging, belated coverage of the Air America scandal. Said Calame, "Readers of The Times were poorly served by the paper's slowness to cover official investigations into questionable financial transactions involving Air America."

Well, woop-de-doo! Calame has finally said something slightly negative about the Times. Hooray! Hooray! Of course, Times readers were also poorly served by Calame's slowness to cover the complaints on that score for weeks on end, but then again he is the Empty Suit, a do-nothing parody of a newspaper ombudsman, so nobody expects anything better from him. But here's the fun part:

Barney whipped out his Sherlock Holmes hat and magnifying glass, conducted a thorough investigation, and found that the Times is not a liberal newspaper! Yup, here are his exact words:

There's another reason to get to the bottom of the scandal. It's the perception problem — a perception of liberal bias for which I haven't found any evidence after checking with editors at the paper.
Reassuring, isn't it? Liberal bias at the Times does not exist. It is a "perception" problem "inspired by conservative bloggers." It is all in your imagination. The Great Oz has spoken! Besides, Calame has proof. He called the editors who ignored the Air America story, and they denied that liberal bias was the reason. So the Times is not liberal. Time to go back to the divan.

Apparently, the Empty Suit's investigation left out something--his own column. His predecessor, the increasingly heroic-looking Daniel Okrent, wrote a famous column over a year ago in which he indicated that liberal bias is an obvious, self-evident trait of the paper. "Is the New York Times a liberal newspaper. Of course it is," said Okrent. "I don't think it's intentional when The Times does this. But negligence doesn't have to be intentional," said Okrent.

Of course, what we have on exhibit today is not negligence. Calame is doing his job--magnificently I might add. No pesky columns making life uncomfortable for the newsroom, no annoying questions making the publisher look bad.

When Calame turned out to be a gutless management shill, he surprised a lot of people (myself included, I have to admit) who remember that he worked for many years as an editor at the Wall Street Journal -- a paper esteemed for its objective news columns and featuring a conservative editorial page.

What we all forgot was that Calame is what one reader accurately termed a "corporate editor" -- a professional bureaucrat. A bureaucrat's job is to serve his employer, and nobody knows that better than the Empty Suit.

UPDATE: The American Thinker has an excellent fisking of Calame's lame excuses. This "not my job" thing is such utter baloney. Since when has anyone at the Times cared about territory? If a reporter was interested in the story, all he had to do is tell his editor and the editor would say to the other two desks, "hey, any problem?" No Times reporter would say "not my job." That's not the Times culture.

No, this was a situation in which no reporters or editors were interested because of that self-evident reason that was so obvious to Dan Okrent and everybody on the planet except the Empty Suit.

A career bureaucrat like Calame would know perfectly well that he was being snowed. A true "public editor" would call it baloney. A management shill, which is what Calame is, would just shrug and say, "OK," and go back to sleep on the divan.

Michelle Malkin picks up on something else that the Empty Suit said--that lack of "awareness" of the competition was an excuse given by the editors:

Not only did the New York Times get beat by its competitors across town (the New York Sun and the New York Post), its reporters and editors weren't even aware of what the Sun and Post were reporting. In other words, the Times staff, by its own admission, was less informed about the latest developments at Air America than the average Sun or Post reader.

Which, by the way, I don't happen to believe. They just fed old Barney a line of claptrap, and he swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. Not because he believed it, but because he sees it as being his job to believe it.

Barney's credibility is eroding so fast that it really makes you wonder--is he doing Times management more harm than good? It theoretically makes sense to have an Empty Suit as public editor, but in practice that just gives critics of the Times something else to ridicule.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

David Duke Boosts Sheehan

Crackpot Cindy Sheehan, who has been trampling on the memory of her late son in her demonstration near the Bush ranch, has a new pal who loves her hate-America and often anti-Semitic ramblings -- the Gauleiter himself, David Duke. This from Christopher Hitchens, drawing a swift slap across the face today in, of course, Counterpunch.

Sheehan is clearly an off-the-charts nut. Yet the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media are continuing to provide this disgrace a forum, ignoring her harebrained rambling and Jew-baiting. Note this piece in the Times today.

Speaking of the Times, here we have something else for its Empty Suit "public editor," Barney Calame, to ignore. Just to be sure he ignores it, I'm sending a copy of this item to Calame's email address. He has what some people believe is a computer robot who spits out form email responses to all those pesky complaints, while he snoozes on the divan. But no, actually Calame responds to each one himself. They only seem composed by a robot!

UPDATE: FrontPage magazine has a good takeout on the Gold Star Moron's Nazi pals.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Kofi Gets a One-Two Punch

The beleaguered secretary-general of the UN gets a one-two punch today. The first was from an editorial in the Wall Street Journal--subscribers only, so I won't bother to link to it. The second was from the New Republic. It is online here. (free registration required)

TNR says: "Yes, everyone is innocent until proved guilty. But there is no reason for anyone to continue to pretend that Kofi Annan is an honorable man, fit to be secretary-general of the United Nations."

Time is ripe for a counter-attack from the UN's fat Ministry of Propaganda and from the hacks and shills of its press corps. Come on, Ian Williams! Earn your payola! The fifth-rate UN consultant-correspondent, famed for taking money for the UN while writing about it, has viciously attacked journos like Judith Miller who won't toe the line. Sounds like a job for this far-left mutt.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Today's Laugh

You have to register at the Guardian if you want a good belly laugh. Then you click here.

Seems the Muslim Council of Britain said in a letter that the BBC is "more interested in furthering a pro-Israeli agenda than assessing the work of Muslim organizations in the U.K."

Come on, read it. Laugh! We can all use a good laugh at a time like this.

On a more serious note, this is an example of the propaganda concept of the "convenient critic" that I observed many moons ago.

Palestinian polemicists constantly find nits to pick at the NY Times, the BBC, the Guardian and other pro-Palestinian media outlets, for the purpose of keeping them on their toes and also, most importantly, to give these hacks the ability to claim that they are "criticized by both sides." The Guardian will always tell you that. They "get hate mail from both sides." It is convenient to have such critics.

The Obligation-less Palestinians

The lead editorial in the New York Times today, closely hewing to the Sulzberger Indifference Template, spins the Gaza withdrawal in predictable fashion.

It's a "first step," Sharon should not be allowed to "maneuver" Bush into an indefinite occupation of the West Bank and--I love this one -- Palestinian terrorists are "troublemakers." Sort of like they go around dropping balloons filled with water out of buildings, and aren't murderers who blow up kids waiting to go into discos. Hey, what else do you expect from the guys who ignored the Holocaust?

Also typical is its anti-Israel skewing of the Road Map for Peace agreed to by all the parties, dismissed by the Times as the "so-called road map." What the Times ignores is that this unilateral and unwarranted gift to the Palestinians is over and above Israel's obligationns under the roadmap. Also, the Times says that "The responsibility of the Palestinians is to clamp down on terrorist activity against Israelis."

Wrong. There's a lot more in Phase One alone:

  • At the very outset of Phase One, "All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel." Hasn't happened.
  • Palestinians "undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere." Hasn't happened.
  • "Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption." Yeah, right.
None of this is mentioned in the Times. As usual Palestinian obligations are completely ignored. A typical Times editorial that, of course, reflects the views of a good deal of the world. Which, again, leads one to think--was the Gaza withdrawal a dumb idea, or what? If the intent was to aid Israel diplomatically and in world opinion, it is shaping up as a big, fat dud. Just read the Times, Ariel bubby.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Gold Star Moron

Drudge says that Cindy Sheehan, the "Gold Star mother" who is tastelessly exploiting her son's death in Iraq, is apparently a full-scale Jew-baiting Moonbat."You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism," Sheehan declares, according to Drudge.

My question is this: Why do I have to read about this in Drudge? Has the MSM, which has covered this fool like a blanket, selectively reported her offensive rants?

Hat tip: Steve Plaut.

UPDATE: It turns out Drudge was late with the story. The Gold Star Moron was quoted spewing her crackpottery six days ago. Electronic Iraq, a proud kill-Americans sister website of the Electronic Intifada crush-Israel website, had this on Aug. 9:

What One Mom Has to Say to George Bush -- Mike Ferner, Electronic Iraq, 9 August 2005

"And the other thing I want him to tell me is 'just what was the noble cause Casey died for?' Was it freedom and democracy? Bullshit! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. We're not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT Act. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism," she exclaimed.
My question remains: Why hasn't the MSM picked up this noxious woman's spewings?

Also note my later post on David Duke giving the Gold Star Moron a hearty thumbs-up, and a piece in FrontPage disclosing her fans in the Nazi movement. Note some of the anguished comments below -- Moonbats hate it when their movement's extremism is outed.

The Empty Suit Digs Deep

Barney's Divan Awaits Its Owner

New York Times spokesman Barney Calame (AKA "the public editor") rises from his divan today, and grapples yet another subject of complete indifference to Times readers. This trivia-loving parody of a newspaper ombudsman had to dig very hard to come up with this dilly. Brace yourself, friends: The Times uses freelancers!

Did you know that? Gee, I sure didn't. I could have sworn that Pableaux Johnson, author of the lead travel piece today on out-of-the-way sights in Siena, was the Times Siena Bureau Chief! Thank you, Empty Suit, for setting us straight on that. We readers really are dumb, aren't we?

So it went for an entire column today. While other issues infuriate readers, such as its improper probe into Judge John Roberts' adoptions--Calame shilled for management on that in his "web journal" yesterday--our Empty Suit gamely focuses on trivia. That is very much his job, which is to sit at a desk, blow off reader concerns, and fill his occasional columns and cobweb-covered web journal with padded dissertations on subjects nobody cares about.

As usual, our Times spokesman hews closely to the party line, with flackery such as "Monitoring and maintaining the paper's ethical and reporting standards among the growing and far-flung army of freelancers is a crucial and complex task." (Grand, isn't it? Sure makes up for the rampant bias and distortions elsewhere in the newspaper--you know, the stuff Barney is ignoring.)

Barney doesn't have much to say on the subject of freelancers. After all, it is not a real issue, just something to use to fill up empty space. That's his job -- to fill the space and occupy the position and do nothing to offend Times editors and reporters. Speaking of which, Barney isn't going to do anything to embarass any Times writers. He actually finds something interesting, which is that freelancers aren't acquainted with Times ethics rules, but he buries it down in his piece and, management shill that he is, withholds their names. Barney wraps up his softball piece by gently suggesting that the Times consider differentiating between freelancers and staffers.

Remember all the complaints that Times reporters used to have about Dan Okrent? That's not happening to Barney. He's an OK guy as far as the Times newsroom is concerned.

Back to the divan, Barney! Another nice job. Sleep well.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Empty Suit Joins the Roberts PR Offensive

A Flack Earning His Pay

The New York Times Public Editor, Barney Calame, continues in his role as public relations spokesman for Times management today, as he dusts off his cobweb-covered "weblog" to post (again, backdated) a note from the Times executive editor concerning Times reporters probing Judge Roberts' adoptions.

As usual, Calame has no opinion--they don't call him the Empty Suit for nothing. However, readers who do have opinions note that the Times is slip-sliding past the essential point, which is that the paper is doing dirty work for opponents of the Supreme Court nominee. What possible value could such info have? So he adopted kids. So what?

Again, an important question and one that the Empty Suit doesn't address.

I note also that the letter published by the Empty Suit is a cleaned-up version of the letter that was actually sent to readers. Here is what the Empty Suit prints:

"I appreciate your concern at the notion that The Times would launch an investigation of Judge Roberts's children, that the paper would retain lawyers to break sealed adoption records, that it would contemplate publishing sensitive personal material about such a private matter. If any of that were true, it would be truly creepy. But like so much of the nonsense Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, and some of the more irresponsible pundits on Fox News spread about The Times, it is not true."

And here is what a reader actually received in an email, as posted a few days ago in the comments section at the bottom of this item:

"As is often the case, the original 'source' of this 'story,' the Drudge Report is wrong, overwrought and a gross misrepresentation of what has happened. Fox, of course, jumped on the 'story,' putting their own spin on it."

Note that Barney cleaned up the language to omit the arrogant tone, the scare quotes around "story" and the attacks on Drudge and Fox. Just a flack earning his pay!

Tomorrow Barney is supposed to be arising off the divan and resume his actual column. I'll stop in to see how he does! Then back to my divan I go.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Shafer's Issues

Shafer: Incoherent

I ventured back into the Internet this evening for a short while, only to be met by a sad sight-- Slate media columnist Jack Shafer making a fool of himself.

Shafer, whose grip on coherence has been slipping recently, makes the case for hiring biased book reviewers, saying "The point of a book review isn't to review worthy books fairly, it's to publish good pieces. "

Uhh, Jack, the purpose of a review is to let the reader know if the book is any good, not to let the reviewer show off. That's my problem with Joe Queenan, as I noted in a previous item.

I'm worried about Jack. This is not the first time he's come out with a rambling, incoherent, nonsensical column. There was his column last week. Then there was his hissy fit some weeks back. Gee. Hope he's OK.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

This blog will be appearing a bit more sporadically than usual for the next few weeks, because of the press of other business. (After all, there is that word "occasional" in the title.)

But rest assured, Mediacrity is no "empty suit." We will not be snoozing on the divan. Keep those cards and letters flowing in!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jennings Dies, The World Mourns

This link says it all.

UPDATE: An excellent piece in FrontPage on all the great stuff Peter Jennings did for his cause--Islamic extremism, that is. I'll quote from the article:
While the rest of the world is blindly singing Jennings' praises, here's a reality check: Peter Jennings did more for the cause of Islamic terrorism than any media figure today. And that's nothing to celebrate, honor, or even memorialize.

Meanwhile, leave it to the World's Worst Media Columnist, Jon Friedman of Marketwatch, to top all his colleagues and make a total ass of himself, in a simpering column criticizing the networks for failing to spend enough time extolling Jennings. As usual, Friedman competes with himself for the bottom -- no one comes close -- with this gem:
Jennings was ferociously competitive and sometimes his desire to be No. 1 came at the expense of his teammates. Ensor noted that it could be "a bit of a blow" when Jennings appropriated a reporter's best writing and claimed it as his own.
Friedman immediately hauls out the vat of syrup and ladles it on:
But Ensor didn't tell the story to make the point that Jennings was a mean-spirited boss or a bully. If anything, I thought that Ensor's anecdote was reassuring. It was nice to know that even Jennings went to such lengths to stay on top.
It's reassuring to know that Friedman is still the Worst. How about retiring undefeated? Come on. Please!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

UN Hacks Caught Flat-Footed

The shrill cackle of media defenders of the UN -- particularly its biggest defender, the fifth-rate hack and Payola Pundit Ian Williams -- fell silent today, as word crept out about the Volcker report's conclusion that the head of the UN oil-for-food program, Benon Sevan, took kickbacks.

For months on end, hacks led by Williams -- flacking for a UN from which he took money -- have been mercilessly attacking journalists who broke from the pack and dared to write negative stories about the East River Debating and Terrorist Cheerleading Society.

None have been more egregious in their UN p.r. work than Williams, who continues to boast about his past UN work as a media trainer, writer and consultant on his "Ian Williams, Media Consultant" Website.

Here's a sampling of Williams's good work making excuses for UN corruption:

MaximsNews, April 7: Williams pooh-poohs the oil for food scandal, calls the Volcker investigation a waste of money, and goes on to plead for the UN to pay Sevan's legal fees, saying it's "only fair" and calling the investigation a "witch hunt."

Speaking of the oil for food program, the Payola Pundit predictably puts on his "UN Flack" hat: "In fact, allowing for the usual inefficiencies of any international bureaucracy, it was a very successful program." Well done! Phrased just as succinctly as one would have expected from the "senior UN officials" he has trained in what his website calls "media handling." (Who knows? Could Benon Sevan been one of those high UN officials getting the Ian Williams Media-Handling Touch?)

In MaximsNews on December 1, Williams ripped into William Safire for criticizing UN officials who "profess to believe the repeated denials of Benon Sevan, the longtime right-hand man of Kofi Annan put in charge of what became history's largest swindle." The Payola Pundit stood up for his pal Sevan, saying "Sevan could make much more money from a libel case than he is alleged to have made in one scrap of hitherto unexamined paper from dubious sources from Iraq."

In The Nation on December 22, Williams said "Charges of corruption against UN official Benon Sevan are suspect at best."

Meanwhile, the loathsome Russ Baker, who laughingly calls himself an "investigative reporter," has been using the oil-for-food scandal to beat up his nemesis, Judith Miller-- one of the few reporters who has been on the story, totally neglected by the somnolent UN press corps. (This far-left anti-investigative-reporting attack dog is, by the way, a contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review.)

The rotten egg that you smell is dripping from the faces of the media's knee-jerk defenders of a deeply corrupt UN. But don't worry. These shameless, unprincipled ideologues will come back swinging. The facts have never prevented them from coming to the defense of the UN.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Friedman Reverts to Suck-Up Mode

The World's Worst Media Columnist, Jon Friedman of Marketwatch, has been sucking up to Newsweek for his past two columns. Nothing remarkable here, except that Friedman's initial reaction to "Korangate" was a nutty column comparing Newsweek to Jayson Blair, whose stupidity I noted at the time.

"The turning point occurred when the media and the public 'went from attack-mode to defend-mode' and began to give Newsweek the benefit of the doubt," says Friedman. He ought to know. His columns have been all over the lot.

Friedman hauls out all the usual cliches, and also as usual inserts his dopey self into the column wherever possible. As in this:

[Newsweek publisher Greg] Osberg will never forget the day all hell broke loose. "I was on a treadmill in Tokyo and saw (Newsweek's managing editor, Jon) Meacham being interviewed on the BBC. I jumped off the treadmill and said 'oh, my goodness, this is serious.'" (Call me a cynical journalist, but I have a suspicion he said something slightly stronger -- but this is Osberg's story and he's sticking to it)
"Cynical"? No. "Awful"? Yes.

The Empty Suit Earns His Pay

Grapples With Nanny Issues

The New York Times public editor, Barney Calame, wipes the cobwebs off his unused "weblog" with an online entry dated August 5, putting an item on the Internet-- something most ombudsman do regularly, or even daily -- for the first time since June 29. (Actually the item was only dated Aug. 5; it just materialized on the web this morning.) The important thing is this: The Empty Suit, famed for doing as little as possible and stepping in occasionally as a management shill, has roused himself to address one of the most important issues of the day!

So let's see if you can guess what lured Barney from the divan:

1. Judith Miller
2. One of the zillion daily complaints of NY Times bias
3. One of the zillion daily complaints of NY Times inaccuracy
4. Ditto, the Middle East
5. Ditto, the Supreme Court nomination
6. A story about a nanny.

If you guessed No. 6, you are of course correct. Seems that somebody wrote a first-person article about her nanny, who was keeping a blog. Now, mind you, blogs are something about which Barney feels strongly. When the Times rips off blogs, the Empty Suit puts on his "management shill" hat and loyally defends his employers. However, a blog ripoff is not his issue today.

Seems that the nanny kept a smutty blog, told her employer about it, the employer read the blog and got mad and fired her. Horrible! Controversial! One of the biggest issues of the day! No wonder Barney picked that instead of one of the other five actual issues that might require this gutless bureaucrat to bite the hands that feeds him.

Seems "an unusual number of readers were upset" by the story, because they felt that the anonymous nanny's blog had been misquoted. Oh my. Awful. Well, here comes Barney, riding to the rescue. He talks to the editor. Not true! The Times was thorough and responsible, as befits a thorough and responsible newspaper. Concluded Barney: "In this case, I think the process followed by the editors demonstrated as much care about fairness, privacy and accuracy as was possible."

The Times is vindicated again, thanks to a "public editor" who avoids serious issues and focuses on trivia, so as to carry out his function -- which is burnish the reputation of his employer.

Take a bow, Barney Calame! The Empty Suit is earning his pay.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Key to Cockburn's Bigotry: Biscuits!

The rat-like Alexander Cockburn has been slithering his way through India on Counterpunch over the past couple of days, in warmed-over diary entries from a trip there in April.

What does a self-absorbed, bigoted British guy (a reader tells me that calling him a "bigoted Englishman" is incorrect, and I must be accurate) have to say about the Taj Mahal? Why, it stinks, of course!

"I'’ve never cared for the Taj Mahal, depicted on the biscuit tins of my childhood," said Cockburn. It is "kitsch." He actually drones on quite a bit on the subject.

How revealing. Think about it. What turned what might have once been a promising young writer into a deeply prejudiced old buffoon? What twisted Cockburn's mind so that one of the most beautiful buildings in the world becomes "kitsch"?

Most rational people look at a thing of beauty and they are awed. Alexander Cockburn looks at a thing of beauty, he thinks back to something in his kitchen when he was a kid, and he is repelled.


Could we have here a clue to the roots of Cockburn's incoherent rants and vile anti-Semitic ramblings? Some kind of childhood trauma, perhaps? Something biscuit- or possibly macaroon-related has polluted his foul brain?

Psychologists, take note.

One positive development: I see that the Taj has lowered its admission fees for foreigners. That must have been good news for this low-wage Moonbat.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Times Sends In Its Hatchet Man

Mediacrity has been preoccupied with earning a living lately--shockingly, this blog is not it--so it (that is, me) has missed a bunch of stuff, including the New York Times review of Ed Klein's book on Hillary. I just have one observation to add to Times Watch's.

There's only one thing worth noting about that review. It can be summed up in one word: Queenan.

Joe Queenan is a guy who writes about sports and entertainment and England and this and that--a lightweight guy who tries to be funny. Sometimes he is, more often not. He is whatcha call "sophomoric." What qualifies him to write about the Klein book? After all, he hasn't covered politics or Hillary or Washington or whatever. Here is his qualification: Joe Queenan has never written a positive review.

OK, "never" is a strong statement. On rare occasion he may express an opinion that is less than venomous. But basically Joe is a hatchet man who gets his jollies being vicious, and his reviews are not only negative but nasty, and not only nasty but gratuitous, and not only gratuitous but personal, and not only personal but vicious... etc., etc. He's not an ideologue; he has no particular views on anything. He just likes to be nasty.

Hire Queenan, no matter what the subject, and you get a negative review. Klein could have been nice to Hillary or mean to Hillary. His book could be good, man, outstanding or awful. Doesn't matter. When Queenan writes it, the review will be bad. Which, by the way, isn't so great from the reader's perspective, as the reader doesn't get a good idea whether a book is worth buying. But since when has the Times cared about its readers?

Just wanted to point that out, not that anybody is going to be surprised that the Times was never, in a million years, going to give Klein fair treatment.

Shafer Aims For The Bottom

Slate's Jack Shafer, usually a little hot-tempered but occasionally lucid, seems to be competing with Jon Friedman for the "worst media critic" title in his column today.

Shafer's rambling item is about media credibility, as he feigns bewilderment that polls keep showing the public has a declining opinion of the media. He hits bottom with this:
The larger point that the boneheads who so despise the media need to appreciate is that the mainstream American press is better than it's ever been. If you don't believe me, visit your local library and roll through a couple of miles of microfilm of the papers you're currently familiarly with. By any comparison, today's press is more accurate, ethical, reliable, independent, transparent, and trustworthy than ever.
Uh, Jack, the measure for that would be the polls upon which you are unloading. Recommended reading: The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. Yes, people often like their Daily Bugle better than they like the New York Times or maybe, God forbid, Slate. Why? Ever hear of the word "Internet," Jack?

Stand in the corner, Jack Shafer. Also, work on your writing--you're really droning on nowadays. (Everything OK at home?) Remember, brevity. Remember, clarity. Oh, and coherence is not a bad idea either.

The New York Times Dejudaizies Jerusalem

Discussing an archeological find south of the Old City, the New York Times today feels an urgent need to give a platform to Palestinian swill de-Judaizing the history of Jerusalem: "as many Palestinians have said, including the late Yasir Arafat, the idea of a Jewish origin in Jerusalem is a myth used to justify conquest and occupation."

Well, I suppose every Christian Sunday School kid knows that Jesus chased the moneychangers from the mosque on the Temple Mount. A reader points me to the PaleoJudaica blog for a more thorough dissertation on the subject. The blog's author, referring to a Palestinian quoted in the piece, observes: "Now I look forward to Professor Nur el-Din's condemnation of the Palestinian Authority's false claims that there never were Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount. If he has gone on record about this, please send me the reference so I can link to it."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

More on the Template

Honestreporting today discusses the media's indifference to the drumbeat of vicious Palestinian incitement against Israel, and quotes Martin Peretz of the New Republic as saying as follows:

The PA has so many times obliged itself to Bill Clinton, George Bush, and the Israelis to stop official incitement against Jews and Israel. But the most grotesque and genocide-provoking hatred for the Jewish people and their state continues to flood the official marketplace of what you might not want to call ideas. I've known this for years, and American journalists have known it for years, but it has gone largely unreported. It's not their kind of story because it ruins the story of Palestinian moderation, to which so many reporters, columnists, and editorialists are wed.

In the case of the New York Times, it's not just a predisposition, it's a template dating back many years. The template also explains why the Times did not follow the story of Condoleeza Rice demanding, and Israel resisting, that it supply the PA with ammunition.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

"Longstanding Policy"? Really?

Howard Kurtz's media column yesterday (I know, shame on me for not noticing) briefly discusses the New York Times's ripoff of my item on Romenesko. Nothing really new, except for an interesting quotation from the Empty Suit:

Times Public Editor Byron Calame wrote back that the information had been independently obtained and confirmed" but that the paper would consider a correction if it received "the name and phone number of a person who represents Mediacrity." Mediacrity Man, however, wouldn't identify himself. Calame says that the insistence on a name and number is longstanding Times policy and that "if you look at the item, they were already given credit."

Really now. If I was already given credit, why would the paper consider publishing a correction? Also, as David M observed at the time, the Empty Suit, in his haste to shill for management, was confusing Times policy on letters with its policy on rectifying errors. .

Oh well. At least the august Washington Post recognized that the Times piece was "based on my scooplet."

By the way, I kind of wonder what would have been better from the Times perspective: Its arrogant, clumsy handling of the ripoff, and all the resultant publicity in blogland and now the Post, or just doing the right thing and running a correction?

Salon Keeps the Faith With Its Payola Pundit

Salon today publishes a predictable attack on John Bolton by the Payola Pundit, UN consultant-correspondent Ian Williams (left), while continuing to not disclose Williams' history of working for the United Nations as a media trainer and public relations factotum.

Williams, who recently slapped James Wolfensohn on the back for not allowing a handicap -- being a Jew -- get in the way of his UN work, says he doubts that "senior U.N. staff will have the temerity to speak out in public" about the horrible Mr. Bolton. He goes on to say, "But in private discussions, they may well relish challenging Bolton's credentials to speak on behalf of a nation whose legislature has failed to endorse him."

When Williams talks about "senior UN staff" he speaks from experience. He has been paid in the past to prepare senior UN officials to deal with people who wear Williams' other hat, the one with the press card stuck in it.

Williams is still boasting about his UN jobs as he advertises for work on his website , "Ian Williams, Media Consultant." He's still more than happy to tell us that

"for the last five years he [that is, Williams referring to himself in the third person] has played a significant role in training UNDP Resident Representatives and UN reps in media handling, both at HQ and overseas, with a particular emphasis on coaching for interview techniques. The UN’s training section also called upon him to help with training senior officials at HQ. He has conducted training sessions for journalists and UN staff in places as far apart as Albania, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Macedonia and Morocco."

The Nation began disclosing Williams' UN work -- he is listed on the masthead as "UN correspondent," though his work rarely appears there -- after it was exposed by Accuracy in Media and FrontPage Magazine. Not Salon. Odd, isn't it? Williams is proud he has taken money from people he covers. Gee, you'd think that Salon would share his pride.

Sounds like a job for Columbia Journalism Review! Oops.... almost forgot..... that's not happening.

UPDATE: Williams was out on Aug. 4 with a predictable anti-Bolton rant.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Attention Daily Kos: Mediacrity is Special!

Mamma Mediacrity always used to tell me, when I was a little media blog, that I was "really something special." So it was with a heavy heart that I read the following in the Daily Kos, describing a trip to a Republican gathering:

"I had a friendly conversation with Don Irvine at Accuracy In Media booth about MediaMatters.org and asked if there was a conservative equivalent. We both cited plenty of websites that claim to be 'fact checkers' with various political slants, but he was unable to come up with any that follow the Media Matters model.

". . . We both agreed that conservatives really should get a similar website going to help hold the media accountable [self-serving bloviation deleted]. . .Irvine couldn't think of any, but gave me a brochure with a website listed that he thought might be similar to Media Matters, though he had not personally visited the website to know for sure. The website on the brochure wasn't anything special."

Note the link -- this here blog! Well, it's kinda nice that this part-time, amateur, free-site Blogspot blog is being mentioned as a "conservative" equivalent of the massive, slick , professional, mind-numbingly conventional MediaMatters. I don't much care for that "conservative" label, but I do a lot of labeling myself so I can't be too dogmatic about that. However, let's make something clear:

My mother said I am special. My mother is always right. Watch it, bub.

Glad for the analogy, though. Now, where's my funding?