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Thursday, January 22, 2004
"Stealing" public documents.
The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage today has a huge
story on Republican staff
members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who exploited a
computer-security hole to steal documents from the Democratic
minority. The Daily
Kos is all over it. So is
This is stunningly sleazy behavior.
But is it theft? Savage identifies someone named Manuel Miranda as a
likely suspect. And one of the things Miranda tells Savage is this:
"Stealing assumes a property right and there is no property right to
a government document."
Whoa! That's pretty good. After
all, you and I paid for those documents, Mr. Green.
In other words, it's still a
scandal, but it may not be a crime.
posted at 3:47 PM |
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Does the Globe hate John
Kerry? Timothy Noah's latest "Chatterbox" piece in Slate
is on "Kerry's
Globe problem." The
nut: Kerry's presidential campaign has been hurt by the fact that New
England's dominant daily newspaper is out to get him.
Noah is definitely tapping into a
real undercurrent, at least in terms of what the national media
perceive. ABC's online political tip sheet, "The
Note," isn't archived; but
last fall I recall reading an observation that the Globe's
coverage of Kerry was the meanest any presidential candidate had ever
received from his hometown paper. Noah also notes that Kerry's former
campaign manager, Jim Jordan, has called the Globe's Kerry
coverage "distorted, insignificant, irrelevant, and
But as I told Noah yesterday, I
don't quite buy it. By far the nastiest local commentator on all
things Kerry, for instance, is Boston Herald columnist Howie
Carr. It is Carr who tagged Kerry with his most enduring nickname -
"Liveshot," for his camera-seeking-missile act - and who bashes Kerry
every afternoon on WRKO Radio (AM 680), where Carr hosts the
afternoon drive-time talk show.
Nor can anyone at the Globe
hold a candle - or perhaps I should say a flaming torch - to my
former Phoenix colleague Jon Keller, the political analyst for
WLVI-TV (Channel 56), who last fall hosted an
entire half-hour special
devoted to Kerry-bashing. Keller's column in the current issue of
Boston magazine - obviously overtaken by events - examines in
loving detail how it all fell apart for Kerry on the presidential
To be sure, Noah's Slate
piece is full of "to be sures" - so many, in fact, that his
Globe theory begins to fall apart. (Among the inconvenient
facts Noah is forced to acknowledge is that today's Globe
Kerry's presidential campaign. So, for that matter, does the
Phoenix and the
journalists such as Noah take far more notice of the Globe
than they do of the Herald or Boston's local TV news stations.
But in this case that has led Noah to commit a fundamental error of
logic: he correctly observes that there has been a lot of mean
commentary about Kerry in the Globe; therefore, he decides, it
must have something to do with the Globe.
Yes, over the years the
Globe has run tough pieces on Kerry - some fair,
not - by what Noah properly
observes is an astonishingly large stable of columnists.
But when it come to truly inspired
anti-Kerry pieces of recent vintage, the Globe's not even on
I could go through a laundry list
(if you'd like to compile your own, search these
incomparable archives), but
I'll close with this. Without question, the meanest, most vicious
Kerry-basher working in the media today is someone whose name pops up
on Noah's screen every time he clicks to the Slate home
That would, of course, be
Kaus, who actually ran a
Loathsomeness Contest last
year, and who recently had to suspend his Kerry
Actual Kaus lead-in for an item on
John Edwards on Tuesday: "I'd rather be trashing Kerry
The fact is that Kerry is an
ambiguous figure on the Massachusetts political landscape. He's long
labored in the shadows of the state's senior senator, Ted Kennedy. He
is reserved and formal, which is another way of saying that he's
aloof. He doesn't stroke reporters, and reporters love nothing better
than to be stroked. He has a reputation for being inattentive to the
needs of local officials. He is, for better or worse, a big thinker
who's always had his eye on national politics.
Such a person is going to get
cuffed around. It would be pretty strange if the Globe ignored
New in this week's
Phoenix. Speaking of Kerry ... I spent Tuesday tromping
around New Hampshire, chasing after Kerry and the other Democratic
presidential candidates. Here's
what I found.
Also, what did former treasury
O'Neill really tell
journalist Ron Suskind?
posted at 8:51 AM |
comment or permalink
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
In defense of polls. There's
been a lot of talk since Iowa about how the polls were supposedly all
wrong. In fact, they got it exactly right. How they're used is
Six weeks ago, as we all know, John
Kerry's presidential campaign was dead in the water. As Dan Aykroyd's
Bob Dole would say, he knew it, we knew it, and the American people
knew it. Fundraising dried up. He poured his personal money into the
campaign in a desperate attempt to stave off collapse. It got so bad
that in New Hampshire, which is close to a must-win state for him,
the alternative to Howard Dean increasingly came to be seen not as
Kerry but as Wesley Clark.
Now, what if Kerry had ignored the
polls? Guess what: he'd be limping into the final week of his
campaign. Instead, he shook up his campaign staff. He sharpened his
stump speech. And - most important - he pulled up stakes in New
Hampshire in favor of running full-time in Iowa during the last few
weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
As we now know, Kerry's
all-or-nothing gamble on Iowa paid off. But it's not as if no one saw
it coming. Several weeks ago the media - including national papers
such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times
- reported that Kerry appeared to be doing a much better job of
connecting with ordinary voters in Iowa.
Then, about a week and a half
before the caucuses, the Zogby
daily tracking polls began
to show movement: Kerry and John Edwards up; Dean and Dick Gephardt
down. By last Wednesday, with a week to go, Kerry had taken a narrow
lead. The last Zogby poll, as well as the Des Moines
poll, foresaw the exact
order of finish, although not the dramatic margin of Kerry's and
Edwards's final tallies.
In other words, it appears that the
polls were an accurate reflection of what was happening on any given
day. The polls were immensely useful to the Kerry campaign. Where the
pundits blew it was in taking those polls and using them to predict
what would happen two or more months out. But even here I think it
would be wrong to be too harsh. No one has ever come back from
the kind of hole Kerry had dug himself into. His conflicted stance on
Iraq, and his rococo speaking style, hardly seemed like the tools
needed to stage one of the great political comebacks.
And by the way: according to the
American Research Group's daily
tracking polls in New Hampshire,
Kerry's Iowa bounce is for real. The latest numbers show Dean still
leading, with 26 percent; Kerry with 24 percent; and Clark at 18
percent, dropping out of the virtual tie he had been in with Kerry.
has it Dean, 25; Kerry, 23; and Clark, 16.
I'm willing to bet if the primary
were held today, the results would reflect those numbers. But next
Tuesday? Well, we'll just have to wait and see.
posted at 12:14 PM |
comment or permalink
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Michael Dukakis, prophet of
Iowa. Not much to say this morning - I'll be driving around New
Hampshire all day, stalking the wily Democratic presidential
Like practically everyone, I had
but written off John Kerry
as recently as two weeks ago, reporting on the "nearly impossible
position" of being the former front-runner. So I'm glad I
included this very smart quote from former Massachusetts governor
Michael Dukakis, the Democrats' 1988 nominee and a Kerry
The race has just begun. I
don't know - and I love you all dearly - you guys in the media get
so mesmerized by the polls.... John has always been a slow starter
and a strong finisher. We'll see. We'll only know what's going on
after we've had a series of primaries and things begin to sort
themselves out. That's one grizzled veteran's take on all
Saletan, per usual, has a
smart take on why Kerry won. Slate's Kerry-loathing blogger,
Kaus, has put his "Kerry
Withdrawal Contest" on hold.
And I'm glad I'm not the only one
who thought Howard Dean did
himself no favors when he
spoke to his supporters Monday night.
posted at 7:47 AM |
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Monday, January 19, 2004
Kerry-Clark '04? Why not? It
makes sense, so it probably won't happen. But here's why it should.
Although it may still turn out that Howard Dean's and Dick Gephardt's
field organizations are too much to overcome, there is a pretty good
chance that the story coming out of Iowa tonight will be John Kerry.
Zogby Iowa tracking poll:
Kerry, 25 percent; Dean, 22 percent; John Edwards, 21 percent;
Gephardt, 18 percent.
Meanwhile, in New Hampshire,
Kerry's campaign - dead as recently as a week ago - has sprung to
life; he's essentially tied for second with Wesley Clark (Clark, 20
percent; Kerry, 19 percent) in the American Research Group
tracking polls. Dean still
holds the lead with 28 percent. (The Boston
Globe/WBZ-TV tracking poll
isn't quite as good for Kerry: he's lagging with 14 percent, behind
Dean's 30 percent and Clark's 23 percent).
To finish setting the table: on
Concord Monitor endorsed
Kerry, writing, "Only Sen.
John Kerry of Massachusetts has well-reasoned and rock-solid answers
to every question, foreign or domestic. Kerry is prepared to take
office tomorrow." So
did the Nashua Telegraph.
The Boston Globe and possibly the Boston Herald (even
though it will be with George W. Bush in November) can be expected to
follow suit in the next few days.
Now, then. I can't dig up the
citation, but I know I saw a comment from Clark recently saying that
he wouldn't have jumped into the race if Kerry had caught fire. And
Kerry, after being all but written off, is finally on the move. But
if Kerry and Clark split the anti-Dean vote in New Hampshire next
Tuesday, then Dean could win, regain the momentum, and roll to the
Clark has run an interesting
campaign, and he's a very smart guy, but huge questions remain about
his lack of experience in anything other than the military. If he
were to drop out, and Kerry were to take the unprecedented step of
naming his fellow war hero as his running mate, the combination might
be too much for Dean to overcome. And if Dean can't win in New
Hampshire, he likely can't win anywhere.
Little People news.
Yesterday's Providence Journal reviewed
Little People. Reviewer Jeanne Nicholson writes:
He weighs the risks and
rewards of bone-stretching surgery; he seeks out and interviews
adult dwarfs on their home turf for insights into how Becky might
attain a life of quality in spite of her difference; he attends
and writes about the meetings of Little People of America, knowing
his daughter will have to build a life for herself in a world with
people of average height.
posted at 9:30 AM |
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MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.