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Friday, March 26, 2004
Boston Herald columnist Mike Barnicle today apologized on his
WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) program for using the word "Mandingo" on Tuesday
in referring to the marriage of former secretary of defense William
Cohen, who's white, and former Boston television news personality
Janet Langhart, who's black.
I didn't hear the original
reference on Tuesday. This morning, though, Barnicle said he was
referring to an old movie of that name about the marriage of a white
man and a black woman, that he's friends with Langhart and knows
Cohen slightly, and that he meant no offense.
The only film I could find at the
Movie Database called
Mandingo was this
one, made in 1975.
According to the description, "A slave owner in the 1840s trains one
of his slaves to be a bare-knuckle fighter, unaware that his wife is
demanding from his champion services of a different kind." Not quite
the same thing. And check out this user comment:
Like titillating porn,
Mandingo is the kind of film you rent and hope no one you
know is looking. Then you hurry home, lower the blinds, make sure
the kids are in bed, then turn on the VCR in anticipation. This
film is so politically incorrect it's worth it on that merit
alone! Black and white stereotypes are played up to the hilt and
everybody is running around "pleasuring" any thing that
Nice! Well, maybe Barnicle was
thinking of another movie called Mandingo. Is there
Anyway, Media Log's instant
analysis is that Barnicle was an idiot to toss off a racially charged
term like "Mandingo" (which he essentially acknowledged); that he's a
recidivist (he recently referred to an Iranian actress and an
African-born actor as "terrorists");
but that his apology at least puts him ahead of his 'TKK colleague
Jay Severin, who uses terms like "wetback" and "towelhead"
We'll be kicking this around later
today on Greater
Boston, on WGBH-TV
(Channel 2) at 7 p.m.
CLOSED QUARTERS. Jack Wilson
might prove that he's a terrific choice as the new president of
UMass, but the process, or lack thereof, reeked. Boston Globe
posted at 12:22 PM |
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Thursday, March 25, 2004
THE COMEBACK KID. Mark
Shanahan has a good piece
on David Brudnoy in today's Globe. Brudnoy, who's recovering
from cancer, returned to his talk-show perch at WBZ Radio (AM 1030)
this week. The Boston Herald's Marie Szaniszlo
about Brudnoy's first night back on Tuesday, as did Herald
Here's an interview
I did with Brudnoy last month.
Welcome back, David.
NEW IN THIS WEEK'S
PHOENIX. An anti-war
documentary is coming soon
to a retail outlet near you.
posted at 8:51 AM |
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Wednesday, March 24, 2004
REPORTER CONTRACTS TB.
Boston Herald reporter Jules Crittenden writes today that
among the things he brought home from Iraq was an asymptomatic case
My biggest concern is
getting the word out to professionals now traveling to the region,
thanks to our ongoing wars and occupation of highly infected
areas. You need to be tested. The colleagues I've spoken to were
unaware of the risk.
Sounds like something every
newsroom ought to be thinking about.
posted at 12:10 PM |
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REMOVAL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Let's
see if I've got this straight. NPR's Morning Edition has some
13 million weekly listeners, putting it in the same ballpark as Rush
Limbaugh and Howard Stern. Its audience is up 41
percent in the past five
years, according to NPR's own numbers. And the host since 1979, Bob
Edwards, has been pushed out, with no replacement having yet been
Edwards tells the Washington
Post that he blames
Jay Kernis, NPR's senior vice-president for programming, saying, "I
think it's a style thing. I think he's tired of listening to me."
Well, that makes about as much sense as anything else, unless there
was something going on behind the scenes that we don't know
is NPR's own announcement of the change.
Nothing lasts forever, of course.
But Edwards is still only 56. NPR's drive-time newscasts, Morning
Edition and All Things Considered, though not perfect, are
by far the best broadcast news programs on the air - far better than
PBS's wretched NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
The only good news to offset this
announcement is that William
Marimow, a former editor of
the Baltimore Sun, has been named to a top position at NPR.
Marimow is a Pulitzer winner and a respected journalist, so Edwards's
removal shouldn't be seen as a sign that NPR is lowering its
What it is a sign of
remains, at this point, impossible to say.
Marshall is keeping track
of the Republican smear campaign against former counter-terrorism
official Richard Clarke.
posted at 8:53 AM |
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Tuesday, March 23, 2004
FOX AND CNN: WHO'S WATCHING?
According to a new report by Fairness
& Accuracy in Reporting
(FAIR), the notion that the Fox News Channel is trouncing CNN in the
ratings is one of those received pieces of conventional wisdom that
doesn't hold up when you look at the facts.
by FAIR's Steve Rendall, finds that Fox's lead is in the "share" -
that is, how many viewers are watching at any given time. By
contrast, CNN holds a wide lead in the "cume," which measures how
many viewers tune in for at least six minutes a day. Because CNN
emphasizes news and Fox's programming consists mainly of
opinion-driven talk shows, viewers tend to stick with CNN for a
shorter period than Fox watchers - but there are many more of
How dramatic is the difference
between the two measurements? Rendall writes:
CNN regularly claims a
cume about 20 percent higher than Fox's (Deseret Morning
News, 1/12/04). For instance, in April 2003, during the height
of the fighting in Iraq, CNN's cume was significantly higher than
Fox's: 105 million viewers tuned into CNN compared to 86 million
for Fox (Cablefax, 4/30/03). But in the same period, the
ratings reported by most media outlets had Fox in the lead, with
an average of 3.5 million viewers to CNN's 2.2 million.
As it turns out, these "lighter"
viewers are more valuable to advertisers than the folks who sit
inertly through The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity &
Colmes, and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren for hour
after hour. That's because showing viewers the same commercials over
and over is less cost-effective than hitting channel-surfers once or
twice. Thus CNN is able to charge higher advertising rates than Fox
even though its audience share is smaller. Then there's
MediaWeek last year (2/10/04), media business analyst Larry
Blasius suggested that snob appeal was part of the reason that he
didn't think Fox would soon catch CNN in the race for ad dollars
(MediaWeek, 2/10/04): "There are two kinds of news
advertisers. If you're talking cold remedies, you're buying
eyeballs. Others are looking for an environment, an image. They're
looking to reach decision-makers and influencers who watch news.
If you're an image-oriented product - a BMW, Mercedes, Lexus -
it's not even a question, you go with CNN. There's no comparison
in the quality of the journalism - CNN is light years ahead in
objectivity and reporting - and I don't think Fox's 'New York
Post on TV' approach appeals to the most desirable
Why is this important? There have
been times over the past few years when CNN executives have sought to
emulate Fox - not nearly to the degree as the desperadoes at MSNBC,
but certainly there is more talk and less news at CNN than there was,
say, 10 years ago. FAIR's report shows that aping Fox is not just bad
journalism, it's bad business as well.
posted at 8:51 AM |
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Monday, March 22, 2004
CONTINUES. Two more familiar bylines will soon be disappearing.
Investigative reporter Jonathan Wells, a veteran of CBS's 60
Minutes, gave his notice at the Boston Herald today. He's
leaving to become executive producer of the investigative unit at
WFXT-TV (Channel 25), known as "Fox
25 Undercover." The unit
comprises an on-air reporter, Mike Beaudet; the executive producer's
slot that Wells just took; and a producer's position that Wells will
be filling. You can bet the résumés are flying between
Wingo Square and Channel 25's Dedham headquarters.
Media Log has also learned that
City Hall reporter Ellen Silberman will be leaving to take a job with
state inspector general Gregory Sullivan. Silberman was unable to
talk when I reached her, but she did confirm the pending
"It's a combination of things,"
Wells told me when I asked him why he was leaving the Herald.
"The most important reason is that I had planned at some point in the
near future to try to go back into television, and this was a good
opportunity to do it, and to do it in Boston."
Wells declined to discuss the
ongoing turmoil at the Herald, but there has been plenty. In
recent weeks editor Andy Costello was removed, managing editor Andrew
Gully announced he would be leaving no later than June, and Mike
Barnicle - who lost his column at the Boston Globe in 1998 in
part because the Herald revealed he'd lifted one-liners from a
George Carlin book - was hired, to considerable newsroom
Wells worked at the Herald
for six years before moving to 60 Minutes in 1993. He returned
to Boston in 1999, and ended up back at the Herald after the
Globe proved to be reluctant to bring him aboard.
The two Herald stories Wells
says he's proudest of are the paper's post-9/11 coverage of ties
between Saudi Arabia and both the Clinton and Bush White Houses, and
a series from last year (with recent
follow-ups) of possible
ties between the Islamic Society of Boston and several people who may
had dealings with terrorists.
Update: Ellen Silberman
checks in to say that she's leaving for reasons other than the
turmoil that's hit the Herald newsroom. "I've been at the
Herald for six years," she says. "I don't want to go the
Globe. And I would like to make decent money at some point in
my life. So this seemed like a good opportunity. The timing is
largely coincidental. It happens to be a moment of uncertainty at the
Herald." She adds: "It's not like I'm a rat leaving a sinking
ship. That's not where I'm at. It's more money, it's better hours,
and it's a new challenge."
Silberman will leave the
Herald in early April and begin working at the IG's office at
the end of the month. She adds that she'll be helping with
investigations, not press.
BRUDNOY'S BACK TONIGHT. The
talk-radio legend will be behind the mike from 7 to 10 p.m. on WBZ
Radio (AM 1030).
posted at 3:14 PM |
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TRASHING CLARKE. The
reductive bullet point that's been attached to former White House
anti-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke's critique of the Bush White
House is that he's blaming George W. Bush for 9/11. The
conservatives particularly like this ("Behind the Effort to Blame
Bush for September 11," reads the subhead of a Wall Street
today) because the notion is ridiculous, and thus easily swatted
The truth is that even though the
terrorist attacks could have been anticipated as one of many possible
scenarios involving Al Qaeda, the chances of stopping those
particular attacks on that particular day were minimal.
Thus, what's really disturbing
about Clarke's brief - laid out in an interview with 60
Minutes last night - is not that Bush could have stopped it.
Rather, it is that Bush and his administration dropped the intense
focus that the Clinton White House had given Al Qaeda, and that, as
soon as the attacks occurred, the Bushies immediately pressed for
evidence of a non-existent link with Iraq.
is a particularly revealing passage from 60
"The president dragged me
into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and
said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never
said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in
absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a
report that said Iraq did this.
"I said, 'Mr. President. We've
done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it
with an open mind. There's no connection.'
"He came back at me and said,
"Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very
intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that
answer. We wrote a report."
Clarke continued, "It was a
serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA
experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and
found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared
the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced
by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and
sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'
"I have no idea, to this day, if
the president saw it, because after we did it again, it came to
the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around
the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees
memos that he doesn't - wouldn't like the answer."
The right, of course, is already
trying to discredit Clarke as a partisan warrior - never mind the
fact that he worked not just for Clinton but also for Ronald Reagan,
George H.W. Bush, and, until recently, George W. Then, too, Clarke is
out pushing a new book, which I guess we're supposed to take as some
sign of moral turpitude.
But as Josh Marshall
today, what's really interesting about this is how at odds Clarke's
account is with that of national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Given Rice's dubious reputation for veracity, I'd say Clarke ought to
be taken very seriously.
A NEW BOSTON BLOG. The
Boston Herald has started something called the
to Boston Blog." Written
(so far) by political reporter David Guarino, the blog began with a
"soft launch" Friday. This is the first official Herald blog -
business reporter Jay
Fitzgerald and columnist
Macero have been blogging
for a while, but they do it on their own websites.
The Boston Globe is taking a
different approach, with op-ed
columnists writing Web-only
pieces once a month.
posted at 8:59 AM |
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MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.