Monthly Archives: November 2004

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RADIO DAY . . . Radio talker Bill Bennett on WIND competing with Don & Roma on WLS, both AM in Chicago, is like Shakespeare vs. Mickey Spillane. Bennett has a working philosophy of being guided by callers. Always reasonable, never cranky, smart guy, lots of experience. Caller the other day said he’d heard Katie Couric on the NBC Today show listening respectfully to NBA player Riotous (But Still Righteous) Ron Artest and the players rep. Artest waved his new CD for viewers, making a fifteen-minutes-of-fame sales opportunity of being suspended for fighting fans in the stands. The players’ rep, Billy Hunter, connected the players’ riot to the Iraq war, implying that we are desensitized to violence and that’s why Artest et al. fought fans. (I did not make that up.)

Matt Lauer on the same show, on the other hand, hit Artest hard with his record of suspensions for bad behavior, including smashing a TV camera. Artest responded that he had paid (been fined) $100G for that smashed camera and asked mockingly, “Where’s the camera at?” Laura Ingraham, whose show follows Bennett’s on WIND, made much of that. She’s funny and works off good insights, as how silly it is to blame the culture for one’s actions when conservative culture warriors have been mocked and scorned for decades for knocking the culture. She is a sort of Ringling Brothers to Bennett’s Shakespeare.

Meanwhile, if you want ongoing, daily critique of TV people like Couric (and often Lauer), you do not go to mainstream media (MSM) reps but to Media Research Center (MRC), whose web-based reporting is based entirely on this day this, that day that. Picky, picky, in view of one MSM media reporter in an email to me some months back. It’s called inductive reasoning, I replied. MRC’s Brent Bozell et al. – another site is Accuracy in Media – nail the daily cases of left-wing bias. I would have thought a nod in that direction was in order by the MSM fellow, but he did not want to hear about it.

Jim Romenesko, of Poynter Institute, has quite thorough web-based coverage of (mostly left-oriented) media shop talk. It’s a good place to find MSM replies to bloggers and others, but it’s usually no place to find what MRC and Brent Bozell discover from their right-wing (majority-voter) perspective. Romenesko does a good job telling what LA Times and Wash Post writers say about bloggers, for instance.

One of the latter has a very long column billed as “Unconventional Wisdom,” in which he delivers conventional wisdom about bloggers – “spectacular lack of judgment . . . abundant arrogance” – repeating the objection that they should never have run with those exit polls. This is an aside, however: the column is about exit polls, as for instance, that Republican voters are traditionally underrepresented in them, and networks’ unwillingness to ignore them this time, though cautioned to do so by a major exit pollster. The columnist is Wash Poster Richard Morin, q.v.

RADIO DAY . . . Radio talker Bill Bennett on WIND …

RADIO DAY . . . Radio talker Bill Bennett on WIND competing with Don & Roma on WLS, both AM in Chicago, is like Shakespeare vs. Mickey Spillane. Bennett has a working philosophy of being guided by callers. Always reasonable, never cranky, smart guy, lots of experience. Caller the other day said he’d heard Katie Couric on the NBC Today show listening respectfully to NBA player Riotous (But Still Righteous) Ron Artest and the players rep. Artest waved his new CD for viewers, making a fifteen-minutes-of-fame sales opportunity of being suspended for fighting fans in the stands. The players’ rep, Billy Hunter, connected the players’ riot to the Iraq war, implying that we are desensitized to violence and that’s why Artest et al. fought fans. (I did not make that up.)



Matt Lauer on the same show, on the other hand, hit Artest hard with his record of suspensions for bad behavior, including smashing a TV camera. Artest responded that he had paid (been fined) $100G for that smashed camera and asked mockingly, “Where’s the camera at?” Laura Ingraham, whose show follows Bennett’s on WIND, made much of that. She’s funny and works off good insights, as how silly it is to blame the culture for one’s actions when conservative culture warriors have been mocked and scorned for decades for knocking the culture. She is a sort of Ringling Brothers to Bennett’s Shakespeare.

Meanwhile, if you want ongoing, daily critique of TV people like Couric (and often Lauer), you do not go to mainstream media (MSM) reps but to Media Research Center (MRC), whose web-based reporting is based entirely on this day this, that day that. Picky, picky, in view of one MSM media reporter in an email to me some months back. It’s called inductive reasoning, I replied. MRC’s Brent Bozell et al. – another site is Accuracy in Media – nail the daily cases of left-wing bias. I would have thought a nod in that direction was in order by the MSM fellow, but he did not want to hear about it.

Jim Romenesko, of Poynter Institute, has quite thorough web-based coverage of (mostly left-oriented) media shop talk. It’s a good place to find MSM replies to bloggers and others, but it’s usually no place to find what MRC and Brent Bozell discover from their right-wing (majority-voter) perspective. Romenesko does a good job telling what LA Times and Wash Post writers say about bloggers, for instance.



One of the latter has a very long column billed as “Unconventional Wisdom,” in which he delivers conventional wisdom about bloggers – “spectacular lack of judgment . . . abundant arrogance” – repeating the objection that they should never have run with those exit polls. This is an aside, however: the column is about exit polls, as for instance, that Republican voters are traditionally underrepresented in them, and networks’ unwillingness to ignore them this time, though cautioned to do so by a major exit pollster. The columnist is Wash Poster Richard Morin, q.v.

Chicago, get ready for chaos, warns suburban money…

Chicago, get ready for chaos, warns suburban moneybags fellows with whom Sun-Times Saturday columnist Tom Roeser had lunch. Daley II riding for a fall with multiple scandals, signs of mismanagement. Two congressmen in the wings, neither of them a Harold Washington. Daily crisis press conferences a-coming, Louis XVI revisited.

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FOUND IN FALLUJAH . . . Run quick, Chicagoans, and get yr Trib with its p-1 James Janega latest from Fallujah, where Marines found torture chambers and terrorist banners and more.

(It’s P-1 in hard copy, with jump to last pg of first section, story of the day, paired with Liz Sly’s out of Baghdad, an overview about coming elections, but it’s hard to find on the Trib’s web site, whose p-1 has the black-victim picture Trib editors love to run, going with YESTERDAY’S p-1 hard cover story with frightening, not to say scare, headline, “Poor live housing nightmare while investors reap benefits.” Wait, Chi Trib site caught up to its hard copy sometime after 6:30, when it still had yesterday’s stories. Something wrong here: is this a Toonerville Trolley of a news operation, or isn’t it?)

Janega’s “Blood, knives, cage hint at atrocities: Tip leads U.S. to alleged al-Zarqawi house of torture” – a much more matter-of-fact announcement than yesterday’s – is his usual telling what he sees and hears. It closes with what’s written on the wall of a “dungeon-like room, pitch-black” except for Marines’ flashlights next to “a bloody fingerprint” – in English and Arabic the cryptic words:

“Put . . . ”
“Kept . . . ”
“Plan . . . ”
” . . . to pass on”

– all in English and Arabic – and beside them one more word, “written only in giant Arabic loops:
“’Hope.’”

Janega also tells of:
* “a steel bar bolted into the bathroom wall,” from which “a chain dangled,”
* “a cage tucked into a corner, cobbled together from rusted bits of wire, chicken coops, broken crates and twist ties . . . tall enough for a person to stand in,”
* “a disassembled hand grenade, rubber gloves and numerous bottles of chemicals,” including potassium cyanide identified by a translator, who “at that point Sunday afternoon . . . was the only one who could talk.”

FOUND IN FALLUJAH . . . Run quick, Chicagoans, and…

FOUND IN FALLUJAH . . . Run quick, Chicagoans, and get yr Trib with its p-1 James Janega latest from Fallujah, where Marines found torture chambers and terrorist banners and more.



(It’s P-1 in hard copy, with jump to last pg of first section, story of the day, paired with Liz Sly’s out of Baghdad, an overview about coming elections, but it’s hard to find on the Trib’s web site, whose p-1 has the black-victim picture Trib editors love to run, going with YESTERDAY’S p-1 hard cover story with frightening, not to say scare, headline, “Poor live housing nightmare while investors reap benefits.” Wait, Chi Trib site caught up to its hard copy sometime after 6:30, when it still had yesterday’s stories. Something wrong here: is this a Toonerville Trolley of a news operation, or isn’t it?)



Janega’s “Blood, knives, cage hint at atrocities: Tip leads U.S. to alleged al-Zarqawi house of torture” – a much more matter-of-fact announcement than yesterday’s – is his usual telling what he sees and hears. It closes with what’s written on the wall of a “dungeon-like room, pitch-black” except for Marines’ flashlights next to “a bloody fingerprint” – in English and Arabic the cryptic words:



“Put . . . ”

“Kept . . . ”

“Plan . . . ”

” . . . to pass on”



– all in English and Arabic – and beside them one more word, “written only in giant Arabic loops:

“’Hope.’”



Janega also tells of:

* “a steel bar bolted into the bathroom wall,” from which “a chain dangled,”

* “a cage tucked into a corner, cobbled together from rusted bits of wire, chicken coops, broken crates and twist ties . . . tall enough for a person to stand in,”

* “a disassembled hand grenade, rubber gloves and numerous bottles of chemicals,” including potassium cyanide identified by a translator, who “at that point Sunday afternoon . . . was the only one who could talk.”

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PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS: “Most agree on this: The United States has an image problem,” says Sun-Times’s Lynn Sweet in today’s column over-ambitiously entitled, “What in the world awaits Condi?” as in Condoleezza Rice, our new sec. of state. Muslims and Canadians do not approve of our war in Iraq, for instance. Golly.

The goal is “to advance U.S. interests and security and to provide the moral basis for U.S. leadership in the world” by “public” diplomacy, says Sweet. An undersecretary’s position, currently empty, would normally handle this.

“There is a sense of urgency,” she says, felt by whom she does not say. She discusses this “public” diplomacy in spin-control terms: counter the lie right away, nip lies in buds.

But then she notes that the “regarded” Colin Powell, apparently meaning well-regarded, did not travel enough and so neglected “personal” diplomacy, staying home to protect his Rumsfeld-threatened turf. But Rice’s turf is not threatened. So:

“Rice should start traveling.

“A lot.”

(Paragraph structure in original.)

The unfilled-undersecretary-post problem is left behind.

Definitely.

Then (no transition) we are told about Congr. Henry Hyde, who “wrote . . . public diplomacy-related provisions in” (into?) a bill intended to reform our intelligence operation.

What’s more, we have not enough translators. This problem is “massive,” in case you thought the lack of both public and private diplomacy was big.

Wait. “Back on [to?] public diplomacy.” Period.

(Sweet’s mother was scared by a telegraph operator, as boys in the 40s gibed about an untoward penchant: the penchant-holder’s mother had a nasty fright during pregnancy, leaving the holder with said penchant. If a kid repeated himself, his mother had been scared by a broken phonograph needle. Not brilliant but serviceable on the playground.)

Then Sweet speaks of a “Broadcasting Board of Governors” and its “startups” since Sept. 11, 2001.

“But public diplomacy is more than just good PR,” she writes, meaning radio programs – the “startups” just mentioned. Then she names more things to do, including “grants to developing nations to develop its [their?] own free press, putting content on the Internet and increasing money into [italics added] Arabic and Chinese language training. It’s the whole message.”

I’ll say. But excuse me. I have to go increase some money into the parking meter. They are nasty about that stuff in Oak Park, demonstrating no diplomacy whatever.

PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS: “Most agree on this: The Unite…

PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS: “Most agree on this: The United States has an image problem,” says Sun-Times’s Lynn Sweet in today’s column over-ambitiously entitled, “What in the world awaits Condi?” as in Condoleezza Rice, our new sec. of state. Muslims and Canadians do not approve of our war in Iraq, for instance. Golly.

The goal is “to advance U.S. interests and security and to provide the moral basis for U.S. leadership in the world” by “public” diplomacy, says Sweet. An undersecretary’s position, currently empty, would normally handle this.

“There is a sense of urgency,” she says, felt by whom she does not say. She discusses this “public” diplomacy in spin-control terms: counter the lie right away, nip lies in buds.

But then she notes that the “regarded” Colin Powell, apparently meaning well-regarded, did not travel enough and so neglected “personal” diplomacy, staying home to protect his Rumsfeld-threatened turf. But Rice’s turf is not threatened. So:

“Rice should start traveling.

“A lot.”

(Paragraph structure in original.)

The unfilled-undersecretary-post problem is left behind.

Definitely.

Then (no transition) we are told about Congr. Henry Hyde, who “wrote . . . public diplomacy-related provisions in” (into?) a bill intended to reform our intelligence operation.

What’s more, we have not enough translators. This problem is “massive,” in case you thought the lack of both public and private diplomacy was big.

Wait. “Back on [to?] public diplomacy.” Period.

(Sweet’s mother was scared by a telegraph operator, as boys in the 40s gibed about an untoward penchant: the penchant-holder’s mother had a nasty fright during pregnancy, leaving the holder with said penchant. If a kid repeated himself, his mother had been scared by a broken phonograph needle. Not brilliant but serviceable on the playground.)

Then Sweet speaks of a “Broadcasting Board of Governors” and its “startups” since Sept. 11, 2001.

“But public diplomacy is more than just good PR,” she writes, meaning radio programs – the “startups” just mentioned. Then she names more things to do, including “grants to developing nations to develop its [their?] own free press, putting content on the Internet and increasing money into [italics added] Arabic and Chinese language training. It’s the whole message.”

I’ll say. But excuse me. I have to go increase some money into the parking meter. They are nasty about that stuff in Oak Park, demonstrating no diplomacy whatever.

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Can’t imagine who’s doing a better job in Fallujah than Chi Trib’s James Janega, here with another day in the city that became a battlefield. He eyeballed the aftermath in houses, spotting family pictures and sandbags (used by insurgents), dusty Koran and English-speaking textbook, prayer rug and teacups, a can of men’s black hair color with “Happy Days Again” written on it in English.

In one such house, he writes, an insurgent waited in the dark and when a five-man U.S. squad opened the door, rolled a grenade toward them that killed one and wounded four. Claim cards are left in each house so that the owners can eventually be compensated by us.

Can’t imagine who’s doing a better job in Fallujah…

Can’t imagine who’s doing a better job in Fallujah than Chi Trib’s James Janega, here with another day in the city that became a battlefield. He eyeballed the aftermath in houses, spotting family pictures and sandbags (used by insurgents), dusty Koran and English-speaking textbook, prayer rug and teacups, a can of men’s black hair color with “Happy Days Again” written on it in English.



In one such house, he writes, an insurgent waited in the dark and when a five-man U.S. squad opened the door, rolled a grenade toward them that killed one and wounded four. Claim cards are left in each house so that the owners can eventually be compensated by us.

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EMBEDDED . . . Chi Trib’s James Janega showed up for work again in Fallujah, hanging out with GIs including Sgt. Marc Veen, 24, of Chicago, watching him at his rooftop post plugging an enemy sniper. “He would have gotten one of my buddies,” Veen told him.

He was with them as they rested or slept. One marked a grenade he meant to launch later. “This is 4 my buddy,” he inscribed. His buddy had been killed the previous day. “It hurts,” said the sergeant, from Norristown, Pa., who’d been at it for three days. “I can’t really think about it because I have to look out for my guys.”

“Grief he pushed off,” wrote Janega. “Rage he kept.”

The dead buddy’s wife (now widow) “lives across the street from my wife,” the Pa. sergeant said softly. “I’m all about fighting.”

Later the chaplain, preaching in a ruined kitchen, quoted St. Paul: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” He spoke “with his right hand raised and eyes clenched shut, ignoring muffled blasts from the street.”

“We pray to the heavenly father for our wives, our children, our parents. . . ” he said. “Give us victory, victory, victory.”

=======
A few weeks ago, in Chicago, Janega was reporting on what Judge Anne Burke told Loyola U. audiences about clergy abuse and bishops. I noticed a change in the electronic version, with the notation that a mistake had been corrected and thought, that’s 21st-century journalism: mistakes can be corrected.

I emailed Janega to that effect, and he got back, full of apology for making the mistake in the first place. He surprised me with that. Reporters err; it was correcting the error that had struck me. The guy is conscientious, as is clear from this battlefield reportage.

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