Writing in the Argentine Post, Taos Turner finds significant similarities in language, sourcing, and phrasing between a recent New York Times story on Argentina and a similar piece published a year ago by Newsweek.
In all, Byrnes referred to or quoted 12 expats for his Newsweek story. Lee quoted or referred to not one or two of these sources, but to eight of them. These include Amanda Knauer, David Lampson, Gavin Burnett, Grant Dull, Jane Hallisey, Marina Palmer, Tomi Streiff and Tom Rixton. But while Lee referred to or quoted all of these sources, he did not contact all of them to confirm their stories. Marina Palmer, author of “Kiss and Tango,” is one of those people. She actually left Argentina in September to move to Oxford. And while she plans “to return to Argentina as much as possible,” she is no longer an expat in Buenos Aires. She said in an email that Lee had not interviewed her.
One more reason to spend more time reading the foreign press: Shmuel Rosner of Ha’aretzhas a good piece on Obama, Israel and the General McPeak comments that have caused the latest stir. Here’s the McPeak comment:
Q: So where’s the problem? State? White House?
A: New York City. Miami. We have a large vote here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it… I think that everybody understands that a settlement of the Arab-Israeli problem would require the Israelis to stop settling the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and maybe even withdraw some of the settlements that have already been put there. And nobody wants to take on that problem. It’s just too tough politically. You can’t develop a Middle East strategy. It’s impossible.
The Obama campaign issued a statement dealing with McPeak. Here it is in full: “Senator Obama’s longstanding commitment to Israel is clear to anyone who has reviewed his voting record, read his speeches or looked at his policy papers. As he has said, his support for our democratic ally Israel is based on America’s national interests and our shared values. Neither Senator Clinton nor Senator Obama agrees with every position their advisors take, and in this case Senator Obama disagrees with General McPeak’s comments.”
It’s nice to know that Senator Obama doesn’t think New York and Florida Jews are the main impediment to solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
UPDATE: Andrea Mitchell has been covering the Clinton campaign for NBC News, and mentioned last night on the air that her memory of the Bosnia trip is different from Clinton’s. So why did Mitchell not say that before? On March 13, the Nightly News ran a segment in the “Where They Stand” series, about how “the issue of leadership in a time of war of guiding this nation in a crisis has loomed large.” Mitchell mentioned then that “Bosnia was a one-day trip with Sheryl Crow and Sinbad to entertain the troops.” But Mitchell did not say Clinton’s “sniper fire” account was erroneous, or that she was there that day. However, last night, Mitchell said on the Nightly News that she was in Bosnia, and that “those of us on that trip recall it differently.” So Mitchell, who’s made note of her “quick fingers” in dialing into Howard Wolfson’s conference calls, didn’t poke holes in Clinton’s account until after CBS played the video.
And who else was on this trip and knew for months that HRC was not telling the truth?
Reporter Steve Behrens of the public-broadcasting trade publication Current reports that National Public Radio’s work force expanded so much it needed new space, and the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Maryland sunk into a bidding war over who could grant the most tax relief to the government-subsidized system:
In 2012, when NPR moves to its recently acquired headquarters site seven blocks east of its present home, it will have much more room for growth than it had after its last move, with as much as four times the floor space.
In 1994, when the network moved into its present home, 635 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., it had about 400 employees. The building, with less than 150,000 square feet, could accommodate just 480, NPR said at the time. The space was soon outgrown. Since then, the NPR staff has grown by half to about 600, overflowing into rented space…
To win the high-profile network, D.C. pledged to levy no property taxes for 20 years, worth an estimated $40 million, according to city spokesperson Sean Madigan. In the meantime, the city agreed to limit tax increases on NPR’s present site to no more than 3 percent a year, he said.
Montgomery County offered a similar package, including property tax exemption worth $32 million and construction of a parking garage worth $15 million to $18 million, the Gazette newspaper reported.
If the prospect of a taxpayer-funded liberal sandbox enjoying a two-decade tax holiday doesn’t smell enough like hypocrisy, there’s also this. NPR’s tower of a building will also have better scenery across the street as the lower-income residents take a hike.
Across North Capitol Street, a developer will replace the troubled low-income Sursum Corda housing complex with a mix of housing for present residents plus an influx of higher-income residents, according to the city.
Today the RSA security conference sent out an announcement detailing the rules of engagement for press covering the event (which begins April 7 in San Francisco). At the bottom of the e-mail is a message noting that in accordance with an agreement the conference made with former Vice President Al Gore, press will not be allowed to attend his keynote presentation at the conference. Video recordings, broadcasts and photography are also prohibited.
And Kim Zetter from Wired reports of another run in with Gore-the-censor:
When he gave his now-famous global warming slide presentation at the TED conference in 2006 (Technology, Entertainment and Design) I tried to approach him after the presentation to ask a question and was thwarted by his aggressive spokesman who planted himself between me and the former v.p. and griped that I’d been allowed to attend the presentation. He said the talk was supposed to have been off-limits to press (although the conference organizers never mentioned this to me, and no one tried to prevent me from entering the auditorium, although my badge clearly indicated I was press). Gore’s spokesman took down my name and affiliation and warned that I wasn’t to write anything about the event.
PolitiFact, a joint venture between CQ and the St. Petersburg Times, declares Hillary Clinton’s pants (pants-suit?) on fire for her Bosnia story:
There’s no doubt flying into Bosnia was dangerous back in 1996, but the threat of sniper fire is not the same as actual sniper fire, and hustling off the tarmac is not the same as running with your head down. Yes, Clinton later acknowledged that she was mistaken, but it’s hard to understand how she could err on something so significant as whether she did or didn’t dodge sniper bullets. Quite simply, this kind of hyperbole deserves our harshest assessment. We rule Pants on Fire.
Los Angeles Times Editor Russ Stanton said today he will launch an internal investigation into the authenticity of documents used in a story last week asserting that the newspaper had uncovered new evidence implicating associates of rap impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs in a bloody 1994 assault on hip-hop superstar Tupac Shakur.
Stanton ordered the review after the editor of the celebrity-centric website, The Smoking Gun, told the newspaper that he had reason to doubt The Times’ account and in particular the FBI records that were supposed to buttress the story.
The website this morning posted a story saying the records — purportedly statements by an unnamed informant to an FBI agent, which the newspaper posted on its website — appeared to be forgeries. The Smoking Gun (www.thesmokinggun.com) said the documents seemed suspicious for multiple reasons, including the fact that they appeared to be written on a typewriter, rather than a computer, and included blacked-out sections not typically found in such documents.
Although The Times has not identified the source of the purported FBI reports, The Smoking Gun story asserts that they were created by convicted con man James Sabatino, who the website contends was a starry-eyed music fan with a long rap sheet and a history of exaggerating his place in the rap music world.
“The Times appears to have been hoaxed by an imprisoned con man and accomplished document forger, an audacious swindler who has created a fantasy world in which he managed hip-hop luminaries,” the report on the website says.
The purchase price is more than the market expected but still about half what Ford originally paid for the brands several years ago. The long-awaited deal, which was announced Wednesday, also carries a painful payout for Ford: after the sale closes, which is expected midyear — Ford will give Tata another $600 million to make up for shortfalls in the two brands pension plans.
Tata Group, one of India’s largest conglomerates, has been on an overseas acquisition spree, buying everything from tea and coffee companies to steel manufacturers. Other Indian companies are also considering overseas acquisitions, as a weak dollar coupled with strong domestic growth make takeovers attractive, particularly in the United States.
From cars for [100,000 rupees] to [10 million rupees], Tata makes them all
… Two months ago, Tata Motors earned the distinction of becoming the world’s cheapest car maker when it unveiled Nano – an affordable family car that will begin selling for [100,000 rupees] or nearly USD 2,500 (ex-showroom) later this year. …
But this is not the first time that Tatas are snapping up a British brand. In January 2007, Tata Steel acquired Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus, a company that earned four times more revenue than the Indian buyer.
Although Tatas showed class all the way, they have had to contend with insults be it when they bid for Jaguar-Land Rover or hotel chain Orient-Express.
“I don’t believe the US public is ready for ownership out of India for a luxury-car brand such as Jaguar…,” Ken Gorin, the head of Jaguar’s American dealers, had said during the course of Tata’s bid for Ford’s British marques.
However, Tatas have shown the world that they are not the ones to be cowed down by such paradoxical statements by people in the West, whose companies have increasingly been moving jobs to the East to save costs.
Can you imagine how this story would be played in an American newspaper if the tables were turned and a U.S. firm was buying a couple of iconic brands from a struggling Indian company? Every professor of postcolonial studies at Columbia would be writing an op-ed about how domineering American capitalism is victimizing the poor Indians. There would be dire predictions of cutbacks (despite assurances to the contrary), &c. But the Indian papers have the audacity to actually present the success of their fellow countrymen as admirable.
Angry Chinese nationalists are using the Internet to denounce Western media coverage of Tibetan unrest, amid a campaign by the Beijing government to discredit what it says are biased foreign reports.
An “anti-CNN website” brands the news channel as the world’s “leader of liars”, exposing what it calls errors in its reporting and in other Western news outlets.
The website was set up by a young graduate from Qinghua University in Beijing, Rao Jin, after overseas Chinese he liaised with complained about some Westerners’ misunderstanding of China, according to the China Youth Daily.
An open letter asking all Chinese to rise up against the “Western Goebbels’ Nazi media” — a reference to German dictator Adolf Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels — has also been circulated on several online forums.
“The Chinese nation, peace-loving, refined and cultivated, has long swallowed humiliation and submitted to insults. It can no longer be a silent lamb,” said the letter.
Among the newspapers that have chosen not to dispatch reporters to cover the two leading Democratic candidates on a regular basis are USA Today, the nation’s largest paper, as well as The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Baltimore Sun, The Miami Herald and The Philadelphia Inquirer (at least until the Pennsylvania primary, on April 22, began to loom large).
Traveling campaign reporters say they try to do more than just regurgitate raw information or spoon-fed news of the day, which anyone who watches speeches on YouTube can do. The best of them track the evolution and growth (or lack thereof) of candidates; spot pandering and inconsistencies or dishonesty; and get a measure of the candidate that could be useful should he or she become president.
Deep and thoughtful reporting is also being produced by journalists off the trail. And some news organizations that can afford it are doing both. But the absence of some newspapers on the trail suggests not only that readers are being exposed to fewer perspectives drawn from shoe-leather reporting, but also that fewer reporters will arrive at the White House in January with the experience that editors have typically required to cover a president on Day 1.
Charles Krauthammer made a fascinating suggestion on the Fox News All-Star panel yesterday:
Unfortunately, if this were to happen at all, it would probably have to happen in the opposite order: Many Western media outlets act on the profit motive, and threatening not to cover the Olympics unless China grants immediate access to Tibet isn’t a very profit-friendly move. Far more people watch the Olympics than watch foreign-conflict coverage, so betting the former to secure the latter isn’t too smart.
Western governments would have to lead the charge, offering subsidies to the networks before the networks even thought about making the threat. But as the panelists discussed elsewhere in the program, Western interest in leveraging the Olympics against the Chinese just isn’t very high. France is making some gestures toward boycotting the opening ceremonies, but that’s about it.
Finally, there’s the ethical question of the government using media outlets as foreign-policy tools, and of the media outlets agreeing.
Le Monde’s Laurent Zecchini is reporting today that the paper has had access to documents showing that Iran has been pursuing a military nuclear program without interruption, contrary to the December 3, 2007, American intelligence report saying Tehran had ceased such work. The paper outlines the documents in details, including the news that on February 25, “the Deputy Director General of the International Agency Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Olli Heinonen, provided proof of the existence of the Iranian military nuclear program.’ The proof was confirmed by Iran’s former Ambassador to Syria. Lots of good detail and worth wading through, right to the end, where French diplomats call the December U.S. intelligence report, suspected at the time of being politically motivated by insiders trying to undercut the Bush administration’s anti-Iranian policies, an example of a “major malfunction.” That’s putting it politely.
INDIANAPOLIS (CBS/AP) ― The college student who got a stinging brushback from Chelsea Clinton when he asked about her mother’s handling of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, said Wednesday he is a Clinton supporter who was simply trying to give her daughter an opportunity to show people “what makes Hillary so strong.”
Evan Strange, a Butler University student who also works on the school’s newspaper, The Butler Collegian, said he had asked Chelsea Clinton at her appearance Tuesday at the school for her opinion “on the criticism of her mother that how she handled the Lewinsky scandal might be a sign of weakness and she might not be a strong enough candidate to be president.”
… Strange’s question brought a stinging rebuke from Clinton’s daughter. “Wow, you’re the first person actually that’s ever asked me that question in the, I don’t know maybe, 70 college campuses I’ve now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business,” Chelsea Clinton said during the campaign visit for her mother.
If this is really the first time Chelsea’s been asked about the scandal that defined her father’s presidency in 70 campus campaign stops, that says a lot more about the other 69 campuses than it does about Evan Strange of Butler. Way to ask the tough questions, college editors.
Egypt is imprisoning journalists for reporting on the health of Hosni Mubarak, speculating that the 79-year-old president may be ill. A guy is pushing 80 and you get jailed for speculating about the condition of his health?
Outspoken Egyptian editor Ibrahim Eissa was sentenced to six months in jail on Wednesday for writing rumours about President Hosni Mubarak’s health, a justice official told AFP.
… Eissa had been due to tried before a state security court where he would have enjoyed no right of appeal, but eventually the trial took place in an ordinary court after what the journalists’ union called regime backpedalling.
… At least seven journalists were sentenced in September alone to up to two years in prison on charges ranging from misquoting the justice minister to spreading rumours about 79-year-old Mubarak.
Last night, the Fox News All-Star panel took a look at the new, younger pastor at Obama’s church, and it wasn’t pretty:
The commentators made a number of important points. For one, while hyperbole isn’t unusual in church settings, this type of rhetoric — for those who didn’t watch the video (tsk, tsk), on Easter Sunday, the pastor compared the media’s treatment of Trinity United to a lynching — is extreme. Even for black churches, which have long been known for their expressive sermons.
Two, these comments belie Obama’s notion that Reverend Wright’s anger is a relic of the days of segregation. That may be part of it, but it’s also a core feature of the radical church Obama chose to join, chose to stay with, and chose to donate money to.
That’s the upshot of Michael Calderone’s perceptive analysis of the Hillary-Dodging-Snipers-With-Sinbad story. (Seriously, how weird is it that Sinbad has become a big part of the discussion in this presidential campaign?) Calderone writes:
After CBS provided the video knocking down Hillary Clinton’s account of her trip to Bosnia, alongside comedian Sinbad and singer Sheryl Crow, the senator now says she “misspoke” about landing “under sniper fire” and running for safety.
The Washington Post Michael Dobbs, who writes “The Fact Checker,” awarded Clinton “Four Pinocchios” for the embellished story.
Over the past day, journalists present on the trip have provided details that show Clinton’s account wasn’t accurate. But why did this take so long for the press to refute?
Calderone argues that the story didn’t have much impact until the video became available. As with the Rev. Wright, the story had been around for some time, showing up here and there in print. But it was the video, which quickly made its was to YouTube, that made the critical difference. Apparently, when the media asks America “Who you gonna believe? Us or your lying eyes?” the pajama’d masses uploading at YouTube have more credibility than the bigfoots of journalism.
But if Mrs. Bill Clinton does become president, there are some interesting possibilities for her security detail:
Sean Hannity is whacked in this week’s Newsweek as a ratings-hungry phony. In the “Conventional Wisdom Watch” box, credited to senior editor Jonathan Alter, Hannity (and Rush Limbaugh) are handed a “down” arrow and an insult over their supposed exploitation of the Wrong Reverend Wright:
Along with Rush, uses race-baiting to score ratings. Now that’s hating America.
A few lines above, Barack Obama gets only a sideways arrow, and the line:
Will the greatest speech in recent history get him sidelined as a “black candidate”?
It should come as no surprise that Jonathan Alter and Obama don’t share an audacity of hope about Hannity’s sincerity. Near the end of Obama’s memoir, Dreams from My Father, page 453:
My wife will tell you that by nature I’m not somebody who gets real worked up about things. When I see Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity baying across the television screen, I find it hard to take them seriously. I assume they must be saying what they do primarily to boost book sales or ratings, I do wonder who would spend their precious evening with such sourpusses.
It gets funnier on the next page where he goes into pox-on-both-houses mode and complains of both right and left:
They are stories of conspiracy, of America being hijacked by an evil cabal. Like all good conspiracy theories, both tales contain just enough truth to satisfy those predisposed to believe in them, without admitting any contradictions that might shake up those assumptions.Their purpose is not to persuade the other side but to keep their bases agitated and assured of the rightness of their respective causes – and lure just enough new adherents to beat the other side into submission.
This all contradicts the “Faith” chapter in The Audacity of Hope (page 198), where Obama tells a story of receiving an e-mail from a Christian doctor who wondered why a fair-minded man like Obama would have website language about his willingness to fight “right-wing ideologues who want to deny a woman’s right to choose.” Obama changed the language to something mellower, he wrote, and prayed to recognize the idealism in his opponents:
And that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own – that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me.
The Wall Street Journalpoints out that, on the same day David Mamet published his “Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal” piece in the Village Voice, another great playwright, Tom Stoppard, was publishing similar thoughts in the Times of London.
Stoppard, who comes from a family of Jewish emigres from Czechoslovakia, writes:
In 1968 I was living the good life with my first wife and first baby in our first house on the swell of my first play and was beginning to be noted by my peers as someone who was politically dubious.
… I was already conscious of a feeling in myself which detached me from the prevailing spirit of rebellion when bliss was it in that dawn to be alive but to be young was to be where it’s at.
The feeling I refer to was embarrassment. I was embarrassed by the slogans and postures of rebellion in a society which, in London as in Paris, had moved on since Wordsworth was young and which seemed to me to be the least worst system into which one might have been born – the open liberal democracy whose very essence was the toleration of dissent.
I had not been born into it. You don’t need to be a qualified psychologist to work out that in England in 1968, 22 years after I arrived, I was much more disposed to champion my adoptive country than to find fault with it. For all I knew to the contrary, if my father had survived the war (he was killed in the Far East) he would have taken his family back to my birthplace in Czechoslovakia in 1946 and I would have grown up under the communist dictatorship which followed two years later.
“Embarrassment” is exactly right. Later in the column, he quotes himself quoting Alexander Herzen in The Coast of Utopia:
They invented personal liberty without having any theories about it. They value liberty because it’s liberty.
This is very old hat for conservatives, of course, the confusion of liberty with license and the rejection of flawed liberal societies for the utopian promises of totalitarian politics. But it’s remarkable to see these ideas getting such an airing from the likes of Mamet and Stoppard. In this dreary campaign season, wouldn’t it have been something to hear Barack Obama give a speech about liberty instead of a speech about the private insensitivity of his grandmother? Wouldn’t it have been something if Michelle Obama, who claimed to never have been proud of her country until her husband’s recent success, had instead written: “I was much more disposed to champion my country than to find fault with it”?