Showing posts with label New York Times. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York Times. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

'The New York Times killed me'

When New York Times foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid died while clandestinely in Syria this past February, the hagiography passed for the official version of events.

Brave reporter sneaks into repressive state to document Bashir Assad's massacres, dies of acute asthma attack.

Read all about it in the
Jill Abramson, the executive editor, informed the newspaper’s staff Thursday evening in an e-mail. “Anthony died as he lived — determined to bear witness to the transformation sweeping the Middle East and to testify to the suffering of people caught between government oppression and opposition forces,” she wrote.

The assignment in Syria, which Mr. Shadid arranged through a network of smugglers, was fraught with dangers, not the least of which was discovery by the pro-government authorities in Syria. The journey into the country required both Mr. Shadid and Mr. Hicks to travel at night to a mountainous border area in Turkey adjoining Syria’s Idlib Province, where the demarcation line is a barbed-wire fence. Mr. Hicks said they squeezed through the fence’s lower portion by pulling the wires apart, and guides on horseback met them on the other side. It was on that first night, Mr. Hicks said, that Mr. Shadid suffered an initial bout of asthma, apparently set off by an allergy to the horses, but he recovered after resting.

On the way out a week later, however, Mr. Shadid suffered a more severe attack — again apparently set off by proximity to the horses of the guides, Mr. Hicks said, as they were walking toward the border. Short of breath, Mr. Shadid leaned against a rock with both hands.

“I stood next to him and asked if he was O.K., and then he collapsed,” Mr. Hicks said. “He was not conscious and his breathing was very faint and very shallow.” After a few minutes, he said, “I could see he was no longer breathing.”

Mr. Hicks said he administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation for 30 minutes but was unable to revive Mr. Shadid.
IT'S KIND of like The Washington Post of All the President's Men -- only dirtier, dangerouser, and with an Arabic soundtrack.


So now the Pulitzer-winning reporter's cousin has come out with a different story about the story. It sounds less like Ben Bradlee's
Post -- as interpreted by Jason Robards, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman -- and more like The Office. With Steve Carrell as Michael Scott of Dunder Mifflin Paper Co., fame.

Reports Politico:
"The phone call the night before he left [Turkey for Syria], there was screaming and slamming on the phone in discussions with editors," Ed Shadid, a cousin to the late reporter, said last night at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee's convention in Washington, D.C.

"It was at this time that he called his wife and gave his last haunting directive that if anything happens to me I want the world to know the New York Times killed me," Ed Shadid said.

A spokesperson with the ADC confirmed those remarks to POLITICO, which were first made available in a rush transcript provided by ADC member William Youmans, who attended the event. Other attendees also tweeted the remark last night, noting the audience's surprise at Ed Shadid's statements.


In his conversation with editors, Anthony Shadid is said to have complained about logistical issues regarding his transfer into Syria. Ed Shadid also told the audience that his cousin was suffering from health issues prior to his entry into Syria. Anthony Shadid died from an acute asthma attack on February 16.
DR. EDWARD SHADID'S audience at the ADC gala was shocked, shocked.

They oughtn't have been. The nation's newspapers are populated by humans, not superheroes, and they can be derailed by a lot less than Kryptonite.
Take mathematics, for example.

And the
Times is a lot more like The Office than you -- or they -- would like to think. Your local paper is probably even more Office-ier than that, and it's full of Michael Scotts.

That's life, into which --
like the rain -- the posturers, the excessively ambitious, the unimaginative and the incompetent must occasionally fall. It's not like the movies, and it's not at all the way journalism evangelists spin their own story.

Only sometimes lives hang in the balance. And sometimes journalists die because Robert Redford plans are hatched with Dunder Mifflin forethought.

Don't misunderstand. Journalism is a noble profession, and newspapers
(still) are invaluable resources that grease the gears of a modern democratic society. This despite journalists propensity toward epistemological closure, to bandy about a favored catchphrase for our postmodern times.

In other words, believing your own PR
(and discounting others') can be hazardous not only to your worldview, but also to your health. You're not Robert Redford. Your editor is not Jason Robards. You work in something that looks more like an accounting office than it does The Front Page . . . or Lou Grant.

But the guy in the cubicle next door just might be Rainn Wilson.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's all hell and agony at the Daily B-Word

Today, The New York Times gives us a delicious account of the latest bloodletting -- this one high-level -- at the off-off-Broadway production that is Newsweek / The Daily Beast, starring Tina Brown and a cast of . . . dozens?

If this were sometime back in the day, and if we had the luxury of this production being some sort of experimental cinema, surely there would be some small ad in the back of The Village Voice going something like

Of course, the unabridged, unedited version of what the famed film critic wrote would have gone more like:

"You'll laugh! You'll laugh at your foolish notion that this piece of drivel was worth $2.95 of your hard-earned money. You'll cry! That's because there are no refunds at the box office. But this can be said with confidence: Tina Brown is something else. You just don't want to know what it is."
FOR THIS production -- sadly a real-life one -- there will be no Vincent Canby review. He died in 2000, leaving the dirty work of recounting the awful fate of a once-proud weekly and its beleaguered staff to a new-generation Times scribe, Jeremy W. Peters:

Ms. Brown cast the moves, which coincided with a meeting of the Newsweek-Daily Beast board on Monday, as a restructuring. Mr. Miller will run the operational side of the newsroom while Ms. Rosenthal will help steer the news report. Ms. Brown also recently hired an outside consultant, Lisa Benenson, to help with the restructuring of the magazine.

“I see Newsweek constantly evolving and improving,” Ms. Brown said in an interview on Monday. Describing what effect she hoped the changes would have, she added, “I think it will make it much more nimble.”

Monday’s departures were just the latest moves for a company that has experienced substantial upheaval in the last year. As Newsweek was put up for sale by The Washington Post Company and bought by the audio magnate Sidney Harman, its senior editing team was replaced and its business management turned over. Then in April, Mr. Harman died after a bout with leukemia and his wife, former Representative Jane Harman of California, assumed her husband’s responsibilities on the board.

Staff members at Newsweek and The Daily Beast said the environment there had become difficult in recent weeks. People who work there, who did not want to publicly criticize their bosses, say morale in the newsroom has sunk as Ms. Brown has had more frequent outbursts in front of her employees. “It’s all hell, it’s agony,” she has been overheard telling staff members about the quality of their work, according to one of them.
NOW WE KNOW why the 99 percent drinks.

It's because the 1 percent is bat-s*** crazy . . . and in charge.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The last refuge of scoundrels

"After reading Krugman's repugnant piece on 9/11, I cancelled my subscription to the New York Times this AM."

That's the reaction on Twitter today from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to "The Years of Shame" blog post published Sunday by New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman.

-- NPR's The Two-Way blog

Donald Rumsfeld is such a wuss. Among other things.

There are hundreds of millions of us who weren't so petulant as to renounce our U.S. citizenship over his repugnant performance as defense secretary. Even after Abu Ghraib.

If Rick Perry is elected the next president, however, all bets are off. I hear Montreal is lovely this time of year.

And, for what it's worth, Paul Krugman was a lot more right than wrong.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Apparently, edginess has its limits

When it's something you want to hear, it's "edgy."

When it's something you don't, it's offensive and violates some flavor or another of unspecified "values."

In New York, this pro-life billboard highlighting the inconvenient statistic that 59.8 percent of pregnancies among non-Hispanic black women there end in abortion is offensive.

“The ad violates the values of New Yorkers and is grossly offensive to women and minorities,”the city's public advocate, Bill de Blasio, tells The New York Times. That's because, in the big city, telling minorities that we're eradicating most of them before they can emerge from the womb to become a "social problem" for white people is much more "offensive" than the actual eradication of most minorities before they can pop out of Mama's belly and start troubling Caucasian advocates of tolerance and open-mindedness.

FOR INSTANCE, take Times judicial reporter Linda Greenhouse (please), who's so tolerant of pro-lifers -- particularly Puerto Rican, Democratic pro-life officeholders -- that she lets no stereotype go unmolested in the push for better demonization.

You want to know the one instance when it's permissible to call a Latino Democratic pol "nutty" in New York City? This is it. And a state senator, no less.

If you ask me, the first sign a nation's on the road to oblivion is when it's more offensive to bemoan the extermination of 59.8 percent of a city's African-American children than it is to exterminate them in the first place. Think of it this way . . . we fought a bloody civil war a century and a half ago for this?

At least Jefferson Davis would have had enough sense to look at the LifeAlways billboard, sadly shake his head, then bemoan the senseless loss of perfectly good free labor. Which says a lot about us today, doesn't it?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

All the twits that are fit to diss?

Imagine you're the editor of a major metropolitan newspaper . . . OK, editor of the metropolitanest of major metropolitan newspapers.

Imagine that you need to announce that your managing editor is going to step away from that job for six months to run the paper's online operations. Imagine likewise that you also are announcing that three editors will take turns filling in for her.

AND WHILE you're at it, can you imagine any good reason to throw the following lines into the staff memo? The New York Times' Bill Keller could:
No doubt this rotation will be widely analyzed, interpreted and speculated about. (I look forward to hearing and reading a lot of entertaining nonsense.)

"I think you're all a bunch of petty, nonsensical morons" like immediately assuming the worst of your staff -- and everyone else -- then giving the impression you're explaining the process only because you know people will be coming up with all that "entertaining nonsense," not that that will stop the idiots.

And if the boss has so little confidence in his charges at The New York Times -- America's "newspaper of record," why should we? For what nonsensical reason, in that case, should we bother reading a publication put together by such a collection of dolts and gossips?

For what insane reason would an editor feel the need to say something like that in a staff memo, and say it so . . . gratuitously?

NO DOUBT, this memo
will be widely analyzed, interpreted and speculated about. One only can hope (for the sake of the Times) that the easiest conclusion to draw -- that its author is a smug jerk who isn't exactly building an institutional culture conducive to success -- is just a lot of entertaining nonsense.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The perils of preprints

The problem with preprinted sections in the newspaper is the very real possibility something will happen between the printing and the distribution that will make you look really, really stupid.

Or worse.

Today, it's
The New York Times' turn to get bitten in the arse:

Correction: July 6, 2008
An article today in Sunday Business about missed opportunities to reduce America’s dependence on imported oil refers to a 1990 effort by Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, to block higher mileage requirements for vehicles and notes that Mr. Helms did not return calls seeking comment. The section went to press on Thursday, before Mr. Helms’s death Friday morning.

Monday, March 10, 2008

That damned (though lovely) Honor Blackman

Two stories. One governor. All about the same thing, and the lengths to which some politicians will go to get it . . . or make it an obligation-free entitlement via the charnel-house method.

What is it? Let's just say Agent 007 "had" the answer in Goldfinger.

Here's the latest breaking story, still unfolding as I type, from The New York Times:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation.

The wiretap recording, made during an investigation of a prostitution ring called Emperors Club VIP, captured a man identified as Client 9 on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a room. The person briefed on the case identified Mr. Spitzer as Client 9.

The governor learned that he had been implicated in the prostitution probe when a federal official contacted his staff last Friday, according to the person briefed on the case.

The governor informed his top aides Sunday night and this morning of his involvement. He canceled his public events today and scheduled an announcement for this afternoon after inquiries from the Times.

The governor’s aides appeared shaken, and one of them began to weep as they waited for him to make his statement at his Manhattan office. Mr. Spitzer was seen leaving his Fifth Avenue apartment just before 3 p.m. with his wife of 21 years, Silda, heading to the news conference.

The man described as Client 9 in court papers arranged to meet with a prostitute who was part of the ring, Emperors Club VIP, on the night of Feb. 13. Mr. Spitzer traveled to Washington that evening, according to a person told of his travel arrangements.

The affidavit says that Client 9 met with the woman in hotel room 871 but does not identify the hotel. Mr. Spitzer stayed at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on Feb. 13, according to a source who was told of his travel arrangements. Room 871 at the Mayflower Hotel that evening was registered under the another name.


Mr. Spitzer gained national attention when he served as attorney general with his relentless pursuit of Wall Street wrongdoing. As attorney general, he also had prosecuted at least two prostitution rings as head of the state’s organized crime task force.

In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island.

“”This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multitiered management structure,” Mr. Spitzer said at the time. ”It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring.”

AND NOW, THE OLDER, less sexy story that's pretty much about exactly the same thing, as reported by Rochester's Catholic diocesean newspaper:

New York state's eight bishops -- including Rochester's Bishop Matthew H. Clark -- voiced in a joint March 10 statement their strong opposition to Gov. Eliot Spitzer's proposed Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act.

The bishops' statement describes the proposed legislation as "a radical proposal" that would elevate abortion to a fundamental right in New York state and maintain the state's reputation as the "abortion capital of the United States." The bishops are calling on all Catholics to let their legislators know they oppose this bill, which Spitzer introduced last spring. The bishops also plan to meet privately with Spitzer March 10 to discuss the proposal, as well as education tax credits and other critical issues facing the state.

The proposal, known as RHAPP, would establish the choice to terminate a pregnancy as a protected and fundamental right and ensure abortions are legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy, according to Jann Armantrout, the Diocese of Rochester's life-issues coordinator, who spoke about the proposal Feb. 27 at St. Mary Parish in Waterloo. It would allow post-viability abortions to be performed outside of hospitals and on an outpatient basis in clinics, It also would transfer the state's abortion-related laws from the criminal code into public-health law.

RHAPP would make abortion virtually immune from state regulation and reverse the current law requiring that only doctors may perform abortion. Instead, it would allow any health-care practitioner to perform the procedures, Armantrout said. It also would block the passage of an "Unborn Victims of Violence Act," meaning that those convicted of killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child could only be punished for one murder.

Last but not least, RHAPP would eliminate from current law conscience protections that allow doctors and hospitals to refuse to perform abortions; medical students to refuse to learn how to perform abortions; and Catholic agencies, hospitals and schools to refuse to provide insurance coverage for abortions, Armantrout said.

"The extremism of this proposal is couched in euphemisms like 'choice' and 'reproductive health care for women.' The words have become unmoored from their meaning; they cannot mask the fact that the bill attempts to legislate approval for a procedure that is always gravely wrong," the bishops said in their statement.
SEE, JAMES BOND exists only in literature and in the movies. Having your cake and bedding it, too, gets a lot more complicated -- and untidy -- in the real world.

Laws get broken. People get hurt. Babies get killed in the womb.

All because of, well . . . you know.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Would you buy a used lobbyist from this man?

Would this be an example of Sen. John McCain being "imprudent," like what one of his friends mentioned to The New York Times in that story the GOP presidential candidate so hotly denies?

Newsweek reports:
A sworn deposition that Sen. John McCain gave in a lawsuit more than five years ago appears to contradict one part of a sweeping denial that his campaign issued this week to rebut a New York Times story about his ties to a Washington lobbyist.

On Wednesday night the Times published a story suggesting that McCain might have done legislative favors for the clients of the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, who worked for the firm of Alcalde & Fay. One example it cited were two letters McCain wrote in late 1999 demanding that the Federal Communications Commission act on a long-stalled bid by one of Iseman's clients, Florida-based Paxson Communications, to purchase a Pittsburgh television station.

Just hours after the Times's story was posted, the McCain campaign issued a point-by-point response that depicted the letters as routine correspondence handled by his staff—and insisted that McCain had never even spoken with anybody from Paxson or Alcalde & Fay about the matter. "No representative of Paxson or Alcalde & Fay personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC," the campaign said in a statement e-mailed to reporters.

But that flat claim seems to be contradicted by an impeccable source: McCain himself. "I was contacted by Mr. Paxson on this issue," McCain said in the Sept. 25, 2002, deposition obtained by NEWSWEEK. "He wanted their approval very bad for purposes of his business. I believe that Mr. Paxson had a legitimate complaint."

While McCain said "I don't recall" if he ever directly spoke to the firm's lobbyist about the issue—an apparent reference to Iseman, though she is not named—"I'm sure I spoke to [Paxson]." McCain agreed that his letters on behalf of Paxson, a campaign contributor, could "possibly be an appearance of corruption"—even though McCain denied doing anything improper.

McCain's subsequent letters to the FCC—coming around the same time that Paxson's firm was flying the senator to campaign events aboard its corporate jet and contributing $20,000 to his campaign—first surfaced as an issue during his unsuccessful 2000 presidential bid. William Kennard, the FCC chair at the time, described the sharply worded letters from McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, as "highly unusual."

The issue erupted again this week when the New York Times reported that McCain's top campaign strategist at the time, John Weaver, was so concerned about what Iseman (who was representing Paxson) was saying about her access to McCain that he personally confronted her at a Washington restaurant and told her to stay away from the senator.
GIVING THE strong impression that you're on the take is imprudent. Galavanting around the country with a hot lobbyist not your wife is imprudent.

Vowing to keep our overstretched armed forces in a Middle Eastern cesspool for 50, 100 or 10,000 years "if need be" is imprudent. Flat-out asserting "there will be other wars" is imprudent, if for no other reason than tipping your hand in a high-stakes international poker game.

Unless you're bluffing. Which -- given the stakes and your opponents' willingness to call your bluff in the name of Allah -- is damned imprudent right there.

What's really imprudent, though, is telling bald-face lies to a press corps that more than has the means, the skill and the motivation to conclusively prove you're a damned liar tout de suite. If McCain, on the verge of securing the Republican nomination, is that contemptuous of the truth then follows up by completely underestimating the press corps, he is a man who has no business in the Oval Office.

We've had a gullet full of just the same -- with catastrophic results -- from its present occupant.