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Friday, July 30, 2004
GOOD ENOUGH AND THEN SOME.
Everyone seems to think that John Kerry is a lousy speaker. In fact,
he's quite a good speaker when he has a decent speech to deliver and
is in front of a big crowd, where his old-fashioned, stemwinder style
doesn't seem too archaic. His speechifying is not terribly
well-suited to television, which is an obvious problem in this, the
sixth decade of the television age. That didn't matter so much
night, though, because he
was speaking not to the television cameras directly but rather to the
Democratic faithful, with TV simply capturing that.
Kerry got exactly what he needed.
He got to introduce himself to that segment of the public that hasn't
been paying attention up until now. He put himself forward as a
more-than-plausible alternative to George W. Bush. And he managed to
humanize himself somewhat, even though he praised his wife with
exactly the same solemnity that you might imagine he would use to declare
The modern style is to talk, not
orate, and to smile often. Kerry orates, and he almost never smiles
as he's speaking. But he's learned to compensate for that by grinning
broadly whenever he isn't speaking, a technique he used quite
effectively in the primary debates last winter. The cameras capture
him darkly glowering as he delivers his message, which isn't
necessarily a bad thing when he's talking about serious issues. But
then he comes off as relaxed and smiling during the
Last night in the FleetCenter, it
seemed like Kerry was rushing his speech, stepping on applause lines,
plunging ahead inaudibly as the crowd continued to whoop it up. But
later, I watched maybe the first 10 minutes on the C-SPAN replay, and
it came across differently. Kerry was miked so that the crowd wasn't
nearly as loud. You could hear the cheers, but as background. So
although I've heard several commentators say that Kerry was rushing,
I'm not sure it came through that way to the viewers at
One thing that surprised me was the
harsh tone of Kerry's speech. I think it may have been a smart move,
but it was also a risky one. The rule of thumb in modern political
campaigns is that the candidate takes the high ground while
surrogates - the running mate, party officials, and the like - slash
and smear. George W. Bush has been doing his share of Kerry-bashing,
but he's left the heavy lifting to Dick Cheney and Republican Party
chairman Ed Gillespie.
Last night, though, Kerry did some
of his own dirty work. For instance:
I will be a
commander-in-chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have
a vice-president who will not conduct secret meetings with
polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a
secretary of defense who will listen to the best advice of our
military leaders. And I will appoint an attorney general who
actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.
The reference to John Ashcroft, in
particular, elicited the loudest applause of the speech, matched only
- and oddly, I thought - by Kerry's promise to boost stem-cell
research. I didn't quite get that. Perhaps, to Democrats, the
roadblocks Bush has erected to slow stem-cell research are emblematic
of a world view based on his particular religion rather than science,
and represent the arrogance of a man who places his personal beliefs
above the good of the country. (But that would just be a
The heavy reliance on military
symbolism and the strong emphasis on foreign policy were most
un-Democratic. It's possible that it will backfire on Kerry, given
the lack of specifics he offered in dealing with the war in Iraq. On
the other hand, his handling of the war, should he become president,
will be entirely dependent on his negotiations with other countries.
We all know that the leaders of those countries would rather deal
with Kerry than Bush; but Kerry obviously can't negotiate until he
Late last night, I graded Kerry's
speech as an A-minus for content and a B for delivery. Now that I've
seen that he didn't appear to be rushing things on TV as much as it
seemed in the arena, I'll upgrade the latter grade to a B-plus. Not
bad. In fact, quite a bit better than not bad.
JULY SURPRISE. The
Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reports
that the White House waited to announce the arrest of a major Al
Qaeda figure in Pakistan until yesterday at 3 p.m. Kurtz notes that
the New Republic had outlined
precisely this scenario a few weeks ago.
The only surprise is that this
didn't get major coverage the night of Kerry's speech. Either the
media were too geared up to change directions, or they're not falling
for this garbage anymore. Maybe both. (Correction. It was not the White House that announced the arrest. My error, not Kurtz's.)
posted at 11:20 AM |
Thursday, July 29, 2004
IN THE HOUSE. I don't have
an Internet connection inside the FleetCenter, so I can't do any
real-time blogging. But I thought I'd bang out a few observations for
later upload. I'll skip Kerry's speech tonight and deal with that in
8:10 p.m. I've been here for
about 15 minutes, high above courtside, stage left and slightly
behind the main podium, surrounded by folks from Slate and the
New Republic. If anyone tries to leave, he or she won't be
able to get back. Slate's Tim Noah has already tried. I am
trying to limit my liquid intake.
Wesley Clark is speaking, and he
delivers a speech heavy on militarism and patriotism. "The flag!"
(Wild cheers.) "Enough is enough!" "Under John Kerry ... we're going
to attack and destroy terrorist threats to America!" "America! Hear
this soldier! Choose a leader! ... Protect our liberty! Renew our
8:18 p.m. Joe Lieberman
arrives, to the strains of Neil Diamond's "Coming to America." He
manages not to say, "Is this a great country or what?" He does say of
Kerry and Edwards, "They're not just going to win the popular vote,
as Al Gore and I did. They're actually going to get to take
8:39 p.m. House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi is speaking: "Hope really is on the way."
A few minutes ago we got an advance
copy of Kerry's speech. It's l-o-n-g.
I thought it was funny when they
played "Mr. Big Stuff" for Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell last
night. But why are they playing it for Pelosi?
8:42 p.m. Willie Nelson and
an African-American choir sing a song that appears to be called "The
Promised Land." No, not the Bruce Springsteen song of that
Kerry's speech is embargoed, but
I'm not posting this until after he delivers it, so what the hell. It
looks like his refrain will be "America can do better. And help is on
the way." Gee, what happened to "hope is on the way"? Has it already
8:46 p.m. Former secretary
of state Madeleine Albright is speaking: "He [Kerry] will use
intelligence to shape policy, not twist intelligence to justify
9:02 p.m. Kerry's speech is
good. And harsh! If his delivery passes muster, it's going to give
him a big boost. Check this out: "I want an America that relies on
its own ingenuity and innovation - not the Saudi royal family." Look
for Prince Bandar to start spinning on the No-Spin Zone, like,
9:06 p.m. Carole King comes
out to sing "You've Got a Friend."
9:11 p.m. John Kennedy on
the video screen while his voice crackles over the PA system: "Let
the word go forth from this time and place ..." The reaction is
pretty tepid, and it occurs to me that the whole JFK thing is
starting to sound like my parents' invoking Franklin Roosevelt.
Except that FDR had only been gone 20 years when I was 10. If you're
10 today, JFK has been gone for nearly 41 years.
No wonder Bill Clinton got a bigger
hand than JFK when Clark started rattling off a list of "great
9:12 p.m. They're projecting
on the screen pictures of Republicans who are planning to vote for
9:17 p.m. The late Texas
congresswoman Barbara Jordan appears on the big screen.
9:21 p.m. Out come Andre
Heinz, Chris Heinz, Vanessa Kerry, and Alexandra Kerry. Of the two
daughters, Vanessa goes first. "There was not one moment when he
doubted his ability to win," she says. Really? Not even in November
and December? It's probably true. Politicians are a different
She also says that when he told his
dying mother that he would run for president, her response was, "It's
Alexandra tells the now-familiar
story of her father administering CPR to Vanessa's hamster its cage
had fallen overboard during a boating trip. "The hamster was never
quite right after that, but he lived." She also recalls what he told
her when she was an angst-ridden 19-year-old: "Remember that you're
alive and that you're an American. Those two things make you the
luckiest girl in the world."
9:36 p.m. The video begins
to play. Fortunately, I can watch it on a TV in the press row in
front of us. It's short - less than 10 minutes. Your typical gauzy
bio with vaguely patriotic music in the background.
It accomplishes the important task
of going over his war record and anti-war activism, since Kerry
himself is only going to talk about that a little. But wait! Network
coverage hasn't kicked in. But wait again! They probably wouldn't
have carried it anyway ... on Tuesday, I had to switch to C-SPAN to
watch the Teresa video. What can I say? I like
9:47 p.m. A video on the Worcester
fire, and Kerry's involvement in the aftermath.
9:50 p.m. The crews of
Kerry's two swiftboats come out. The biggest hand is for Jim
Rassmann, whose life Kerry saved - and who, in turn, saved Kerry's
campaign when he surfaced in Iowa last January. "Nobody asked me to
join this campaign. I volunteered," says Rassmann, a
Rassmann introduces Max Cleland,
who receives a hero's welcome.
9:56 p.m. Cleland begins
speaking from his wheelchair. He talks about being elected to the
Georgia state senate in 1971, a young veteran missing three limbs,
and seeing Kerry on television. "He put everything I was feeling into
words," he says. "Even before I met John Kerry, he was my
10:02 p.m. Cleland has
entered the main part of his speech, just as the networks join us.
Tells a story about pressing a Bible into Kerry's hand at Kerry's
South Carolina campaign kickoff. "My fellow Americans, John Kerry has
never let me down, and he won't let you down, either."
Kerry will be at the podium in a
11:34 p.m. Just made it back
to the filing center. Instant grades: A-minus speech; solid B
delivery. Much more tomorrow.
posted at 11:39 PM |
KERRY'S LIBERAL APPEAL. It's
5:30 p.m. as I finish this. In just a little less than six hours,
John Kerry will deliver his acceptance speech - the proverbial
most-important-speech-of-his-life, and one that will go a long way
toward determining whether he can defeat George W. Bush this
My Phoenix colleague Kristen
Lombardi and I have stopped by a WiFi-enabled Starbucks after
spending a good part of the afternoon in Cambridge with the Campaign
for America's Future - an
umbrella group that brings together various lefty and progressive
causes and organizations. Al Gore was a no-show. His former top
campaign strategist, Donna Brazile, had still not arrived by the time
we had to leave. So the highlight turned out to be the Reverend Jesse
Jackson, who delivered a rambling but occasionally moving speech.
(You'll be able to read Lombardi's account here
once she's done with it.)
One thing I want to address in
these final hours of the convention is the notion that John Kerry is
nothing but a centrist weenie, and that the left will have to push
him continually if he's elected president. Jackson said as much
today, telling the throng, "When Kerry wins, the anti-war movement
will just have to get bigger the next day."
Texas populist Jim Hightower, at
Sunday's tribute to the
late senator Paul Wellstone, got at much the same thing. Speaking of
Kerry, Hightower said, "I don't care if he's a sack of cement, we're
going to carry him to victory" - and, afterwards, be "in their face"
to get Kerry and John Edwards to toe the line.
What spurs a lot of this talk, of
course, is the experience with Bill Clinton. But Clinton really was a
centrist with a lot of conservative impulses. Kerry is not the most
liberal member of the Senate (click here
to find out why), but he is an actual living, breathing liberal. As
David Corn explained
(sub. req.) recently in the Nation:
Kerry did support NAFTA,
and he has proposed corporate tax cuts to spur investments. He
once raised questions about the political costs of affirmative
action (while still backing such programs). He's not a Wellstone
Democrat. But compare Kerry with Bill Clinton, who still
captivates the Democratic faithful. When Clinton ran for
President, he burnished his centrist credentials by pushing
welfare "reform" and advocating highly punitive crime legislation.
This year, Kerry's post-primary lurch to the center entails
cooling down the populist rhetoric (which he borrowed from his
Democratic rivals) and emphasizing his "values." He has done
nothing as crass as when Clinton left the campaign trail in 1992
to return to Arkansas for the execution of a mentally disabled
convict. Kerry, a former prosecutor, opposes capital
Outside the Wellstone service
Sunday at the Old West Church, Corn told me, "Progressives are going
to vote for Kerry. Bush energizes the base enough that he doesn't
have to worry about that." Corn's analogy is the Republican Party's
extreme right wing in 2000, which swallowed its doubts about Bush's
moderate rhetoric out of a burning desire to recapture the White
House. (Of course, few knew that Bush would actually govern from the
Corn added of Kerry: "He is not a
DLC Democrat," referring to the Democratic Leadership Council, a
centrist faction that Clinton once headed. "I don't think
progressives have to swallow too hard to see the positive aspects of
a Kerry candidacy," Corn said.
We all know how maddening Kerry can
be - the nuances, the grays, the reluctance to take a clear stand and
to stick with it. But when it comes to broad themes, Kerry is a true
liberal - the first to win his party's nomination since Walter
Mondale in 1984, if you subscribe, as I do, to the theory that
Michael Dukakis in 1988 was more of a proto-New Democrat.
There's been a lot of talk this
week that the American people are much more liberal than is generally
thought. "Most Americans in their hearts are liberal and
progressive," filmmaker Michael Moore told the Campaign for America's
Future crowd on Tuesday.
Tonight, Kerry has a magnificent
opportunity to bring those liberals back into the fold - to appeal to
them not as a centrist looking for liberal votes, but as a liberal
who is able to explain himself in mainstream, centrist terms.
posted at 5:34 PM |
NEW IN THIS WEEK'S
PHOENIX. George W. Bush has united
the Democrats. But where do
John Kerry and John Edwards go from here? Also, please check out the
coverage of the Democratic
posted at 11:23 AM |
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF
EDWARDS. I'm afraid that I'm developing a John Edwards problem.
Last night was only the latest example. Let me explain.
My first exposure to Edwards came
four years ago, at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles,
where the North Carolina senator spoke at a breakfast gathering of
the Massachusetts delegates. He struck me as a phony - a slick
huckster who'd succeeded in aping every move and mannerism from Bill
Clinton except the ability to seem genuine.
I liked him better during his
presidential run. Mrs. Media Log loved him, although perhaps
that's a problem of a different sort. Still, the stories crept out
about his robotic repetition of his "Two Americas" speech at
appearance after appearance, his creepy insistence on staying on
message no matter what. Yes, you could say that's what he takes for a
politician to succeed. But Edwards, uh, lost, you know?
Last night's speech
was okay, sort of, although it seemed like he managed to say very
little, wrapped up in a lot of bland generalities. And how icky was
it that the party had passed out "Hope Is on the Way" signs to
delegates so that they could wave them whenever Edwards mouthed the
I'm sorry, maybe it's because he's
such a pretty boy, but I nearly burst out laughing when he looking
into the camera and said, "And we will have one clear unmistakable
message for Al Qaeda and the rest of these terrorists. You cannot
run. You cannot hide. And we will destroy you." What are you going to
do, counselor? Sue them?
And don't you think he should have
referred to "John Kerry" rather than the overly familiar "John"? Even
Teresa called him "John Kerry."
I watched Edwards's speech at
Harvard's Kennedy School amid maybe 60 or 70 students and other
onlookers. By far the biggest reaction of the evening was for the
Reverend Al Sharpton's speech, which was so
moving that you could
almost forget what a dubious figure Sharpton really is. Check out how
I often hear the
Republican party preach about family values, but I can tell them
something about family values. Family values don't just exist for
those with two-car garages and retirement plans. Family values
exist in homes with only one parent in the household making a way
against the odds.
I stand here tonight, the
product of a single parent home, from the depths of Brooklyn, New
York. My mother was a domestic worker who scrubbed floors in other
people's homes for me. And because she scrubbed those floors, I
was proud to stand as a presidential candidate.
Those are family
I recall that a few days after
the September 11 terrorist attacks I was in a radio station that
played "America the Beautiful," as sung by Ray Charles.
As you know, we lost Ray several
weeks ago, but I can still hear him singing: "Oh beautiful for
spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains
majesty, above the fruited plain."
We must leave here committed to
making Ray Charles's song a reality and to making America
beautiful for everyone.
Good night, God bless you all,
and God bless America!
As Sharpton walked off, the sounds
of Brother Ray singing "America the Beautiful" played over the PA
system. It was a genuine, shivers-up-your-spine moment, akin to Patti
LaBelle singing "A Change Is Gonna Come" after Bill Clinton's speech
on Monday. Which only served to emphasize how flat Edwards's effort
Maybe Edwards didn't want to
overshadow John Kerry's big speech tonight. He certainly succeeded.
And you can't help but admire his and his wife's resilience following
the worst thing that could possibly happen to a parent.
But if you're looking for a running
mate who'd bring substance and gravitas to the table, who could
unquestionably step in as president on a moment's notice ... well,
boring old Dick Gephardt is starting to look pretty good right
RACE, RAPE, AND IMUS. This
one's for you, Philip Nobile. For several years, the former New
York magazine media critic has railed
against the racist content of Don Imus's New York-based syndicated
radio program. I always thought Nobile had a tin ear and just didn't
get the humor. And I haven't changed my mind - at least not
But this morning, sidekick Bernard
McGuirk said something that ought to get him suspended for, oh, I
don't know, six months - or six years. I was driving and not taking
notes, so bear with me. (Imus in the Morning is heard locally
on WTKK Radio, 96.9 FM.) At about 9:15 a.m., the gang started talking
about the Kobe Bryant rape trial. McGuirk called Bryant's accuser a
"skanky ho." Some discussion ensued as to whether Bryant might
actually be guilty, the morals of his accuser aside.
Then, incredibly, McGuirk asserted
that regardless of Bryant's guilt or lack thereof, this was obviously
not a "classic" rape - which he proceeded to define as a black man
in a hood assaulting and raping a white woman. Imus did his
usual, acting half-bemused, half-appalled, and complaining that
McGuirk and another sidekick, Sid Rosenberg, were behaving
A commercial break followed. I sat
in the parking lot, waiting to hear what would happen when they
returned. Imus again chuckled about McGuirk and Rosenberg's behavior,
then started talking about New York Times columnist Maureen
Dowd's new book. No apology.
In the past year in Boston, WEEI
Radio (AM 850) hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were suspended
for comparing an escaped
gorilla to black
schoolchildren, and WTKK host Mike Barnicle apologized for using the
fever" to describe the
marriage of former Boston television personality Janet Langhart,
who's black, and former secretary of defense William Cohen, who's
Yesterday Callie Crossley, a
television producer who's African-American, cited those incidents as
evidence of Boston's improved-but-still-troubled racial climate.
it. (Disclosure: Crossley
and I often appear together on WGBH-TV/Channel 2's "Beat the Press"
edition of Greater Boston, on Fridays at 7 p.m.)
But will anything happen to
McGuirk, or to his enabler, Imus? This isn't a Boston problem - it's
a New York problem, exacerbated by conglomerate radio ownership that
brings this into cities across the country. What McGuirk said was far
worse than Barnicle's utterance, and at least as bad as Dennis and
I would say "where is the
outrage?", except that this only took place two hours ago.
Will New York take action? If not, will WTKK general manager Matt
Mills do anything locally? I'll be watching. You should
posted at 10:58 AM |
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
INSTANT ANALYSIS. More on Edwards tomorrow, but my first reaction to his speech: a hodge-podge of meaningless clichés, punctuated in the middle by a few specific bullet points. Maybe I'll feel differently in the morning, but there's a contrived quality to Edwards's public utterances that I've never much liked. Maybe he was trying too hard not to overshadow Kerry.
posted at 10:53 PM |
BRASS KNUCKLES. I'm watching
the convention at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, which is
holding a convention party every night. There's free WiFi, so I
figured I'd post a quick item. Al Sharpton got a huge reaction from
the students. But obviously the most important message of the evening
- other than John Edwards's upcoming speech - is the
Not only did retired generals John
Shalikashvili and Claudia Kennedy speak, but they trotted out a bunch
of military officers ... right after 10 p.m., to make sure network
coverage had kicked in. Smart. If Bush and Cheney are going to turn
this into a war election, you've got to have some brass on your
Cate Edwards is speaking now. Good
Lord ... she's as pretty as her father. Going to post this quickly,
because Elizabeth Edwards is walking to the podium.
posted at 10:16 PM |
CHRIS MATTHEWS, TOURIST
ATTRACTION. It was time for a commercial break. While Chris
Matthews waited to go back on the air, he asked the crowd of several
hundred people who were gathered around the MSNBC tent what they
thought of Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech the previous night. Cheers
went up. Matthews kept pushing.
"You're all sophisticated city
people. Do you think she'll play in Peoria?" he asked. "Yes! Yes!"
came the response.
Among the curiosities that the
Democratic National Convention has brought to Boston this week is
Hardball, which has set up operations right outside Quincy
Market. MSNBC may be the least-watched cable news channel, but the
fascination with television is universal. The program is blasted out
of loudspeakers so the crowd can hear, punctuated by the sound of
military helicopters overhead. (Read Mike Miliard's no-bullshit account about what happened on Tuesday night.)
"Coming up, Congressman Charles
Rangel of New York," Matthews announces. And there, near the barrier
separating the set from the crowd, is Rangel, resplendent in a dark
suit and red tie. He hands out MSNBC ballcaps as the crowd cheers -
but not quite loud enough for a producer, who strides briskly along
the barrier ordering louder applause.
When they come back, Rangel - a
combat veteran of the Korean War - offers a sharp critique of the war
in Iraq. He blasts Bush for sending young soldiers into Iraq despite
having "no plan at all." Rangel blames the war on a host of familiar
names - "Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Kristol, Cheney."
Matthews interjects: "How come we
never hear your candidate speak like you are now? He waffles, he
Rangel parries the question and
runs out the clock. Soon enough, it would be time for another
posted at 8:12 PM |
NO-READING ZONE. Four years
ago - I think it was at the Republican National Convention in
Philadelphia, but it might have been at the DNC in Los Angeles - my
then-Phoenix colleague Seth Gitell and I were walking through
the media center. A little while earlier we'd been writing pieces for
Now we were checking out the media circus before doing whatever it
was we were going to do with the rest of the day.
But rather than having a few casual
conversations with other journalists, we saw that everyone was
chained to his or her keyboard, pounding away. I stopped by the
Washington Post's space so I could say hello to media reporter
Howard Kurtz, whom I know slightly. We politely exchanged a few
pleasantries before he returned to his seat and started typing again.
He was writing twice a day for the Post's website plus once
for the paper. He looked like a haunted, exhausted man.
"Everybody's writing," Seth said,
shaking his head. "Nobody's reading."
Seth is now the spokesman for Mayor
Tom Menino, but I'm still here, writing more than ever. For those of
us in the print media, especially, technology has drastically changed
the way we do our jobs. When I covered my first convention, the
Republican gathering in San Diego in 1996, I had one story to write
for the Phoenix, one short piece I'd contracted to do for
Salon, and that was it. I could actually relax and take it all
in. At the conventions of 2000, I was up to one Web piece a day in
addition to my piece for the print edition. Now I'm updating Media
Log several times a day. Many journalists I know are doing the
Everybody's writing. Nobody's
My heart sinks when I grab the
Boston Globe and the New York Times from my doorstep in
the morning. Most of what I see is for pure political and media
junkies like me, and I could easily spend hours poring over it. But I
can't. Who can? We've all got to get back to work.
So much output, so little input.
There's a price to be paid for all this, and that is that there's
less time to think, less time to read, less time to talk with smart
people without try to wheedle a quote out of them that you can use
within the next hour. There is no news taking place in Boston. It
ought to be a chance to listen and learn, and to get ready for the
But that's not the way it works
anymore. Instead, we've got thousands of journalists producing
non-news from a convention whose work, such as it is, was preordained
on Super Tuesday, way back last March.
RIVERS WHACKS JACKSON
(AGAIN). The Boston Herald today blows out the front on
the Reverend Jesse Jackson's criticism
of Boston. Reporter Maggie Mulvihill quotes the Reverend Eugene
Rivers as saying of Jackson, "Jesse's talking trash and blowing
smoke. This is Jesse's showboat."
As Mulvihill notes, Rivers is "one
of the city's most respected leaders on racial issues." However, he
is also a long-standing Jackson critic. In fact, three and a half
years ago, there were even rumors that Rivers had something to do
with exposing an extramarital affair Jackson had had - rumors that
is what I wrote about Rivers (and Jackson) in February
DEPT. OF SELF-PROMOTION.
PR Week interviews
me about Media Log in its
July 26 edition. Also, Timothy Noah of Slate took
odds on how long Bill
Clinton would speak on Monday night. As you'll see, I was too
pessimistic, but what the hell - there was no prize.
DEPT. OF NON-SELF-PROMOTION.
Speaking of everybody's writing, if you visit Media Log directly
without going to BostonPhoenix.com first, well, take
a look. Phoenix
staffers have been posting like crazed weasels since
posted at 1:07 PM |
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
FUN - AND MEDIA-BASHING - WITH
HOWARD AND MICHAEL. The line snaked from the front of the Royal
Sonesta Hotel, on Land Boulevard in Cambridge, around the corner, and
way, way back down Cambridge Parkway. I had no way of measuring it,
but it might have stretched half a mile.
These were the Deaniacs, mostly
young, waiting to see Howard Dean, the man they had tried to get
elected president, and filmmaker Michael Moore. You could even hear
celebrity Dean supporter Joan Jett singing "I Love Rock & Roll"
from somewhere amid the boats floating on the Charles. Was it her, or
was it a boombox?
The afternoon event, sponsored by
the progressive Campaign
for America's Future, was
not a masterpiece of planning. It was hardly surprising that many
hundreds of people would turn out to see perhaps the two biggest
celebrities on the American left. As it was, only a fraction of those
hoping to get inside were allowed to squeeze into the second-floor
meeting room where the event was held.
Those of us in the media, not
surprisingly, were well treated, given good seats with a decent view.
We soon learned why: we were the main course.
Dean, the former Vermont governor,
went first. These days he's running something called Democracy
for America, an outgrowth
of his campaign organization, Dean for America, that is working to
elect local progressive candidates across the country - even a
candidate for library trustee. "I like to think library trustee is a
pretty important position in an administration where they like
book-burning better than reading books," Dean said. (Media Log
guarantee: all quotes are 95 percent accurate. Both Dean and Moore
talked so fast, and the cheering was so loud, that I may be taking
After a bit, Dean turned his
attention to Teresa Heinz Kerry's telling a reporter for the
Pittsburgh Tribune Review to "shove it," and asked, "How many
of you would like to tell reporters to shove it?" Whoops and hollers
all around. Dean then told the crowd that the Tribune Review
is owned by right-wing financier Richard Mellon Scaife. "That," Dean
said, "even tops the Boston Herald," which he compared to "the
Not that the Herald doesn't
often deserve it, although the New York Post would be a more
accurate, and somewhat kinder, comparison. Later, though, another
speaker later noted that a Republican official had recently denounced
Michael Moore as being part of the "hate and vitriol from this John
Kerry celebrity set." The source: a July 22 story in the
Herald by Dave Wedge. Only no credit was given.
Moore was running a good hour late,
and other speakers, including former secretary of labor Robert Reich,
filled the time. Finally, following an awkward pause created by what
was apparently a pit stop to the men's room, Moore bounded on stage,
blasting the media for failing to report on weak evidence underlying
the Bush administration's case for the war in Iraq.
Conceding that George W. Bush is
the villain of his film Fahrenheit
9/11, Moore continued
that "there is an unstated villain in the film, and that's the
national media.... The film outs them. It outs them as shills for the
Bush administration. It outs them as cheerleaders for this war." And
this admonition: "You can ask any question you want and not be
arrested. So what has prevented you from asking the questions? You
haven't just been embedded. You've been in bed with the wrong
At one point, Moore quipped, "I'm
not picking on the press here today. I'm sure they'll kick the piss
out of me later." Well, not here. Certainly not when Moore went on to
point out that General Electric, which owns NBC, has $600 million
worth of contracts in Iraq, making them "war profiteers." (That's
harsh, but it's certainly true that NBC News's corporate parent has a
direct interest in not crossing the White House on the war. How come
Tom Brokaw doesn't tell us that?) Or how about Moore's
that Disney, which refused to distribute Fahrenheit 9/11,
turns out to have accepted a $300 million bailout from a member of
the Saudi royal family for EuroDisney ... brokered by the
Bush-connected Carlyle Group. A splendid story for Peter Jennings,
whose employer, ABC News, is part of the Disney family.
Moore also urged progressives to
work for the Kerry-Edwards ticket, saying of the Bushies, "They're
not going to go without a fight, and believe me, they are better
fighters than we are. They are up at six in the morning trying to
decide which minority group to screw today. Our side, we never see
six in the morning. Unless we've been up all night."
Dean and Moore were both terrific,
full of fire and passion, bringing their supporters to their feet
repeatedly. Dean was as unpresidential as ever, which was a reminder
of why - once the caucuses and primaries started - almost no one
actually voted for him. But he remains the guy who energized
the Democratic Party, who dared speak out about the Bush
administration's depredations when most Democrats were hiding under
their beds, terrified they would be accused of lacking
As for Moore, Fahrenheit
9/11 isn't perfect, but it's been unfairly caricatured as nothing
but a factually deficient exercise in Bush-bashing. The truth is that
it is a deeply moral statement
about America in 2004. No wonder the Republicans are so eager to tear
posted at 6:24 PM |
TED K., "PERFECT BASTARD."
Teresa Heinz Kerry quotes, reported by David Guarino in today's
Boston Herald, are far more entertaining than a mere "shove
it." Even if they are 30 years old.
posted at 10:26 AM |
THE KING OF VOX POP. For all
of Bill Clinton's prancing and preening last night about his own
eight years in the White House, what really made his speech
extraordinary were the touches of self-deprecation. Listening to him
talk of his new-found wealth, he sounded for all the world like Bruce
Springsteen singing about being "a rich man in a poor man's shirt."
And he used it to great effect in criticizing the disastrous economic
policies of George W. Bush:
For the first time when
America was in a war footing in our whole history, they gave two
huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top one percent of
Now, I'm in that group for the
first time in my life.
And you might remember that when
I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to
But as soon as I got out and
made money, I became part of the most important group in the world
to them. It was amazing. I never thought I'd be so well cared for
by the president and the Republicans in Congress.
I almost sent them a thank you
note for my tax cuts until I realized that the rest of you were
paying the bill for it. And then I thought better of
But that was just a warm-up for the
main event: Clinton's praise of John Kerry's military service, framed
in the context of his own - and Bush's and Dick Cheney's - well-known
desire not to fight in the Vietnam War:
During the Vietnam War,
many young men, including the current president, the
vice-president and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John
Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided
going too, but instead, he said: Send me.
When they sent those swiftboats
up the river in Vietnam and they told them their job was to draw
hostile fire, to wave the American flag and bate the enemy to come
out and fight, John Kerry said: Send me.
And then, on my watch, when it
was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with
Vietnam and to demand an accounting of the POWs and MIAs we lost
there, John Kerry said: Send me.
Then when we needed someone to
push the cause of inner-city children struggling to avoid a life
of crime or to bring the benefits of high technology to ordinary
Americans or to clean the environment in a way that created new
jobs, or to give small businesses a better chance to make it, John
Kerry said: Send me.
So tonight, my friends, I ask
you to join me for the next 100 days in telling John Kerry's story
and promoting his ideas. Let every person in this hall and
like-minded people all across our land say to him what he has
always said to America: Send me.
The "send me" refrain became kind
of a call-and-response exchange with the audience. It was remarkably
effective, and the Kerry campaign couldn't have asked for a better
introduction to its candidate on network television in prime time.
Hillary Clinton's introduction was good, and she is obviously a much
less wooden speaker than she was during her 2000 Senate campaign. Al
Gore was warm, funny, and human. But Clinton - as he has been in
Democratic circles since 1992 - was the undisputed star of the
One touch of irony: despite the
self-deprecation, despite the strong words of praise for Kerry,
Clinton still showed him up by demonstrating that he is the best
communicator in politics, and the one towering figure within the
Democratic Party. Maybe he can't help it - he's just too good. But
Clinton didn't make it any easier for Kerry to get out from under the
I sat next to Slate's Will
Saletan last night, surrounded by other Slate-sters and New
Republic staffers. Anyway, here
is Saletan's take on the proceedings.
SCAIFE'S LONG REACH.
is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's coverage of Teresa Heinz
Kerry's "shove it" blast at the paper's right-wing editorial-page editor,
Colin McNickle. McNickle is writing a blog
from Boston, but has not yet weighed in on his exchange with Heinz
While everyone is a-twitter over
Heinz Kerry's outburst, what's almost forgotten is that the
Tribune-Review's owner, billionaire right-wing financier
Richard Mellon Scaife, once called
a female reporter a "fucking communist cunt."
Granted, a would-be first lady
needs to watch her language more than Scaife does. (Not that "shove
it" qualifies as being much worse than "I'm not going to answer your
question.") But Media Log thought you'd like a reminder as to whom
she was telling off.
posted at 9:44 AM |
Monday, July 26, 2004
GAY MARRIAGE AND DEMOCRATS.
Bennett Lawson is a young gay man from Chicago. An aide to his
hometown Democratic congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky, Bennett has come
to Boston this week to do volunteer outreach to the
gay/ lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender community. At around 1 p.m. today he
was standing outside a conference room at the Sheraton, where the
GLBT caucus was holding a standing-room-only meeting. His job was to
guard what looked like hundreds of bag lunches prepared for those
attending the caucus.
I wanted to ask Lawson about a
rather unusual phenomenon: the passionate support that gay and
lesbian activists have for same-sex marriage, and their seemingly
equally passionate support for John Kerry, even though both he and
George W. Bush oppose gay marriage.
Of course, I'm being deliberately
disingenuous in phrasing it that way. Yes, Kerry opposes gay
marriage, but he also recently voted against a constitutional
amendment that would ban gay marriage, an amendment pushed by none
other than Bush. Kerry also voted against the Defense of Marriage Act
in 1996, a nasty law that was happily signed by Bill Clinton. Still -
aren't folks like Lawson just a wee bit put off by Kerry's lack of
support for one of the gay community's principal issues?
"He's running nationwide in a
country that is not exactly comfortable with gay marriage," Lawson
replied. "His record is very, very strong on gay issues. Every good
liberal has to moderate things in order to run nationwide - or, in
Illinois, to run statewide - but his record really speaks for
I told Lawson that he sounded like
he didn't believe Kerry when he says he genuinely opposes same-sex
marriage. "No," he replied, laughing. "You know what? I don't." And
since Kerry supports civil unions, with all the rights, benefits, and
responsibilities of marriage, that's good enough for Lawson.
Still, Lawson is less than thrilled
at the notion that the Democratic Party establishment would prefer
that gay and lesbian voters support Kerry without making too much of
a fuss. "I would like to hear the word 'gay' a lot more than I'm
hearing," he said. "At the same time, I don't know what that
Shortly before I spoke with Lawson,
California senator Barbara Boxer addressed the GLBT caucus. "George
Bush has decided that, this year, you're the scapegoat, and I'm here
to tell you that you're not the scapegoat," she told the crowd. She
raised the specter of a re-elected Bush getting the opportunity to
name as many as four Supreme Court justices, and observed that
Congress rushed to judgment on the anti-gay-marriage amendment even
as a number of homeland-security bills sit unacted upon."They knew
they didn't have a chance to pass it, and thank you for all the work
that you did," Boxer said, but added: "This hurtful campaign isn't
going away. They've just begun."
Given the wildly enthusiastic
reception accorded Boxer, I was surprised to learn that her stand on
same-sex marriage is exactly the same as Kerry's. In a brief
interview, conducted on the run as she headed off to another
engagement, Boxer told me that she favors domestic partnerships and
civil unions with all the rights of marriage, but not marriage
itself. When I sought to clarify by asking her whether she
specifically opposed gay marriage, she responded that she would
rather stress what she's for rather than what she's
I also asked her if she was
concerned that, despite Kerry's official opposition to gay marriage,
the Republicans would seek use the enthusiasm of Kerry's gay,
pro-marriage supporters against him. Her response: "If they want to
do that, I think they would be making a terrible mistake."
It's pretty obvious that gay and
lesbian activists such as Lawson believe Kerry, Boxer, et al.
are being deliberately cynical about their true feelings when it
comes to same-sex marriage. Ironically, so do Karl Rove and company.
Whether Kerry's inner self supports gay marriage or not, he's clearly
walking a very narrow path on the hottest of hot-button
Personally, I'd love to see him
come out and declare forthrightly that same-sex couples should be
allowed to marry. But at the very least, he's decided that that would
amount of a political suicide note. And maybe he even thinks it would
posted at 3:38 PM |
TRAFFIC TERRORISM WORKS! As
Media Log predicted some time ago, Boston and the roads leading into
it are virtually empty today. I zoomed in from the Far North in about
a half-hour, and had my choice of parking spaces at the Prudential
Center, where I'm covering a gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender event
at the Sheraton.
posted at 11:51 AM |
REMEMBERING PAUL WELLSTONE.
From the time he entered the Senate, Paul Wellstone was someone
about whom I was aware, if not particularly familiar. My first real
exposure to him came during the 2000 presidential campaign. Wellstone
was supporting Democratic candidate Bill Bradley, who struck me as a
priggish jerk. Bradley couldn't make it onto one of the talking-heads
shows, so Wellstone filled in. It was a revelation. He was smart,
funny, charming, self-deprecating, and every bit the progressive that
Bradley only pretended to be.
A little more than two years later,
Wellstone died in a plane crash while campaigning for re-election in
Minnesota. It was a tragedy that redounded doubly to the Republicans'
benefit when they and their conservative media allies (Rush Limbaugh,
Fox News) grotesquely exaggerated a few partisan moments that took
place at Wellstone's memorial service.
Late Sunday afternoon, I dropped by
the Old West Church, a few blocks from Government Center, to attend a
Wellstone remembrance to benefit the Union of Minority Neighborhoods
and Massachusetts Jobs with Justice. Several hundred people were
jammed inside as the likes of Al Franken, Arianna Huffington, Jim
Hightower, and Boston city councilor Chuck Turner paid tribute to the
most progressive member of the Senate. Neither Boston daily covered
the event. No, it wasn't newsworthy, but neither were the dozens of
parties that the Globe and the Herald reported on
today. For that matter, neither is the convention itself, unless you
think there is some chance that the delegates are going to choose a
ticket other than John Kerry and John Edwards.
The most noteworthy aspect of the
tribute was the way that what one observer called "the responsible
left and the looney left" invoked Wellstone's memory to advance their
particular agenda. Franken, Huffington, and Hightower - the
responsible left (and Franken isn't all that left) - insisted that
Wellstone would be working hard for Kerry.
Indeed, Huffington, who got a big
assist from Wellstone in organizing the lefty Shadow Conventions at
the Democratic and Republican conventions four years ago, went so far
as to say that Wellstone wouldn't have even wanted a Shadow
Convention at the DNC this year, so committed would he have been to
electing Kerry and defeating George W. Bush. "When your house is on
fire, it's not the time for remodeling," she said.
Franken followed a rousing call by
California congresswoman Barbara Lee to bring the troops home by
arguing that that's "easier said than done," noting that Secretary of
State Colin Powell had warned Bush that if he invaded Iraq, "You
break it, you own it." He also puckishly suggested that Kerry recycle
one of Bush's 2000 campaign slogans - "I'm a uniter, not a divider" -
with the difference being that Kerry could actually mean
Yet the uneasy alliance between the
Democratic Party and the far left was laid bare by Turner - and the
raucous applause he received for his extremist remarks. Turner - last
seen unveiling porno
shots at City Hall and
claiming they depicted American troops raping Iraqi women - compared
Wellstone to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., quoting King as
saying, "We have to get rid of militarism, materialism, and racism if
we are to be a whole and healthy country."
So far, so good. But then Turner
asserted that King "was killed by government forces.... I believe it.
Hopefully you believe it." Now it's true that conspiracy theories
abound about King's assassination, and that the King family itself
believes them. But all credible evidence points to the guilt of one
lone racist, James Earl Ray. Never mind. The crowd
Turner continued: "Brothers and
sisters, let's be real. The military-industrial complex has control
of both parties." More loud applause. Okay, I suppose you could make
the point with Halliburton. But both parties? The Democrats
are not pure, but come on.
Turner also accused Kerry, like
Bill Clinton, of being "controlled" by the Democratic Leadership
Council, a "New Democrat" group of moderate centrists. "Kerry isn't
prepared - mentally, emotionally, spiritually - to be the president
we need," said Turner, arguing that though he supports Kerry's
election, progressives will have to pressure him from the left if he
becomes president. Now, Kerry isn't Wellstone, but he's considerably
more liberal than Clinton.
"We can purge the cancer from the
soul of the body politic," Turner said. And, returning to the King
theme, he concluded, "If there's nothing worth living for, there's
nothing worth dying for." The applause was loud and intense,
punctuated by a few dozen people giving him a standing
Turner's remarks represented
exactly what Kerry doesn't need if he's going to defeat Bush: a
hard-left wing supporting him while simultaneously hectoring him,
overladen with anger and conspiracy theories. It's too bad Paul
Wellstone wasn't there to stand up to Turner's stridency.
MORE ALLEGED NEWS. Will the
dinosaurs of broadcast journalism please stop whining about the fact
that the networks are showing only three hours of the Democratic
convention this week? PBS's Jim Lehrer was aghast at Sunday's
Shorenstein Center get-together, as Mark Jurkowitz reports
in today's Boston Globe.
To which I say: the networks should
cover news, and there is no news to be made this week. Conventions
used to pick the candidates; now primary voters and caucus-goers do
that. Why there needs to be obligatory coverage of anything other
than the speeches of the presidential and vice-presidential speeches
is beyond me.
Lehrer called the DNC "four of the
eight most important days we can possibly have as a nation." Good
Lord! Not even close. The debates - which you'd think Lehrer might
have some recollection of, given that he's passively presided over a
few of them - are infinitely more important.
Today people have choices. An
enormous amount of convention coverage is being carried by CNN,
MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, and, for those who don't get cable, Lehrer's
own PBS. Essentially Lehrer is arguing that viewers should be
forced to watch an infomercial. Gee, maybe the off switch
could be remotely disabled this week as well.
posted at 9:46 AM |
Sunday, July 25, 2004
THE RIGHT WING AND THE NETWORK
NEWSCASTS. Do the major network newscasts bend in the face of
conservative and corporate pressure? At a panel discussion on Sunday
at Harvard's Kennedy School, the Big Three news anchors - Dan Rather,
Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings - all said no. But they admitted that
the pressure is real, and is something they feel.
It was Rather who broached the
topic. As he put it, there are certain types of stories where "you
can't afford to be wrong," adding, "That can be a positive or it can
be a negative." If it means more checking or possibly holding a story
for a day, he explained, that could be a good thing. But, he warned,
someone inside the network might kill it, saying, "You know what?
This story is going to be trouble with a capital 'T.'"
NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw followed
Rather by observing that the pressure has always been there. But now,
he said, it's easier to apply that pressure - "just flip a switch"
and the e-mails come flooding in, spurred by conservative media activists
Bozell. Brokaw added that
he has someone screen his e-mails for him - he deliberately avoids
wading through all of them himself lest he be overly
Which led Jennings to walk up
closest to the edge of admitting that, yes, conservative groups
do influence the news. "I hear more about conservative
concerns than I did in the past," Jennings said. Just recently, he
said, a man walked up to him and yelled, "America-hater, leave the
country immediately!" This "wave of resentment," Jennings said, has found
its way to "the corporate suite" and to advertisers, which these days
are urging greater caution.
It was an enlightening moment. But
the crack Jennings had opened was closed quickly. Rather responded to
Jennings's remarks by saying that he has never gotten any
pressure to change the content of his newscast. "At CBS I have not
felt this one iota," he said. To which Jennings chimed in, "My boss
has been terrific, too ... 100 percent supportive.... But I feel the
pressure of the anger all the time."
And Brokaw slammed the door shut by
observing that conservative voices were almost never heard in the
1960s, leading to the culture of resentment that prevails among those
on the right today. So there you have it: the conservatives are
angry, and they attempt to use their power to influence the evening
newscasts. America's best-known anchors acknowledge the anger, feel
the pressure, and, in Jennings's case, admit that the corporate
bosses and the advertisers would rather appease the right-wingers
than tell them to shut up and go away. But none of this, we are to
understand, actually has an effect on the nightly news.
What's frightening about this is the Big Three might actually be right. It may be that their
prestige and long record of accomplishment allows them to protect
their newscasts from the crassest of market and political pressures.
Once they pass from the scene - and Brokaw's retirement has already
been scheduled, with Rather and Jennings perhaps to leave before the
2008 election - who's to say whether their successors will be able
(or be allowed) to take the heat?
Sunday's event was sponsored by the
Kennedy School's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and
Public Policy. Center director Alex Jones moderated, and pushed the
participants hard. Jones began by asking whether they should do a
better job of pointing out when politicians and public officials are
not telling the truth. You can't do "he said/she said," Jones noted,
when people are saying things that "aren't true."
"It's not my job to say, 'Candidate
Y is lying,'" Rather replied, explaining his job is to report that
one person said this, one person said that, and here are the
But is that really the case? As
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and others have noted,
major news organizations in 2000 repeatedly allowed then-candidate
George W. Bush to deny Al Gore's claim that Bush's proposed tax cut
would disproporationately benefit the wealthy. The problem, of
course, was that Gore was right on the mark and Bush was - well,
If anything, Jim Lehrer, the anchor
for PBS's The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, was even more emphatic
than Rather. The mild-mannered Lehrer said, "I am never tempted to
yell, 'Liar!'", making his point so loudly that the audience burst
out laughing. He added, "I am not a lie-detector machine, that is not
my function.... There are very few things that are black and
white.... For journalists to declare, 'This guy is a liar and that
guy is not a liar' is risky business, and those of us in the
mainstream don't do it."
The fifth member of the panel, Judy
Woodruff, anchor of CNN's Inside Politics, expanded on
Lehrer's point, saying, "Politicians have always shaded the truth."
Her examples: Franklin Roosevelt's promise to balance the budget,
John Kennedy's fear-mongering about a phony "missile gap," and
Richard Nixon's "secret plan" to end the Vietnam War. Much of what
politicians say is "shaded," she said, noting that a point about the
economy will be made on the basis of wages or household income
depending on which is more supportive of that point.
To which a somewhat exasperated
Jones replied, "If everything is true, then where am I?"
What Jones was driving at, though
he didn't say the word, was that there are real limits to that
old-fashioned concept of "objectivity." Journalists are used to covering
"both" sides (as if there was always a duopoly when it comes to the
matter of sides), and letting the reader or viewer or listener sort
it out. But what qualifications does a news consumer have to sort
things out? If Bush - or, for that matter, John Kerry - is clearly
lying, isn't it better for Dan Rather to tell his 10 million
or so viewers rather than to require that they figure it out for
Another way of getting at this was
articulated by Democratic congresswoman Anna Eshoo, of California,
who asked whether the networks could have done anything differently
in the run-up to the war on Iraq. Rather replied that when the
president tells the public that there is a direct threat to their
security, there is "heavy prejudice" to take him at his word. "I'm
not apologizing" for that presumption, Rather said, but allowed that
tougher questions should have been asked. Added Brokaw: "It was our
responsibility to put up more caution signs than we did."
Jennings, by contrast, said that
ABC News - and especially Nightline - repeatedly pointed out
how little evidence there was that Iraq possessed weapons of mass
destruction and had ties to Al Qaeda.
Granted, there is no way the
network newscasts could have prevented Bush from going to war, even
though, with their combined audience of 20 million to 30 million
viewers per night, they remain the largest, most influential news
media in the country. And as Rather properly observed, this was not a
story that could have been reported independently: reporters could
not travel to Iraq and determine whether Saddam Hussein had WMD.
Remember, the UN had an entire team of inspectors swarming across the
country, and they were unable to reach any definitive conclusions in
the short time that Bush gave them before going to war.
But even the New York Times
has acknowledged that it was too credulous in its coverage of the
White House's claims about Iraq. It was not a shining moment for the
BUSH TO FOREIGN REPORTERS:
SCREW! The international media have been notably critical of the
Bush administration for thumbing its nose as the world before,
during, and after the war in Iraq. Well, the Bushies know how to get
According to MediaNation - a
joint project of Harvard's Nieman Foundation and UMass Boston - the
White House has cut
the $15,000 to $25,000 normally budgeted for helping some 400 foreign
reporters navigate the two political conventions.
The story, by Seth Effron, will
likely appear in MediaNation's print debut, in tomorrow's
Boston Globe. But you can read it now.
IS THIS ANY WAY TO RUN A
CONVENTION? After getting my credentials, I decided to check out
the media center at the DNC this afternoon. Big mistake! I couldn't
get my umbrella through security; an apologetic guard told me
umbrellas have been classified as contraband, but that I could get it
back at a table on the way out. (Wrong.)
Then, no one seemed to know how to
find the media filing center for reporters who are not affiliated
with large organizations that are renting their own space. A few of us
finally located it, on the third floor of the FleetCenter (nice,
actually, since the big orgs are stuck in a tent outside), but some
techs were still setting up the Ethernet network.
So my plan to blog earlier today
was put off till this evening, when I was able to get onto the Net
from a Starbucks in Harvard Square.
Tomorrow will be different. I
posted at 8:12 PM |
THE DIVIDED ELECTORATE. More
evidence that this year's election may be about the passionate base
of each party rather than swing voters: the latest New York
Times/CBS News poll,
which shows that 79 percent of potential voters have already made up
their minds, up from 64 percent at the same stage of the campaign
four years ago. Times reporter Robin Toner writes:
Rarely has a presidential
campaign been this intense, this polarized, this partisan, this
early. The conventions historically begin the general election
season, ending a lull after the primary season has wound down. But
for months now, the general election battle has been fully
Which is why Franklin Foer's New
(sub. req.) on consultant Bob Shrum's takeover of the Democratic
Party, and of the Kerry campaign, raises some worries about Kerry's
chances. Foer's main point about Shrum is that he's not as bad as
you've heard. (Well, that's a relief!) But his secondary point is
that Shrum is a master of focus groups and day-to-day tactics, not
strategy and vision. Foer observes:
In truth, Shrum's greatest
weakness is not the ideological inflexibility for which he's often
derided - even in private he did not urge Kerry to take more
liberal positions on gay marriage and the Iraq war - but rather a
strategic myopia. According to one consultant who has worked with
Shrum, in the heat of a campaign, "He's far more tuned into focus
groups and polling data than moral arguments." He has a gift for
churning out pithy lines and spin that will win a newscycle but a
harder time devising a grand message for the campaign. He may be
an excellent tactician, but former congressman Tony Coelho, who
chaired the Gore campaign, told me, "My concern is how good of a
strategist he is. In the campaign, Shrum against Karl Rove, I'm
not sure that we end up with the long stick." Indeed, during the
Kerry campaign, Shrum hasn't produced anything comparable to the
leitmotifs that Rove provided Bush in 2000. There's nothing akin to Bush's "compassionate
conservatism" or his relentless emphasis on "restoring honor and
dignity to the Oval Office" - or, for that matter, to Edwards's
Of course, if ever there was a
candidate who needed help in crafting his million-and-one policy
ideas into a grand strategy, it's John Kerry. But given that Shrum
also has a reputation for not playing well with others, it may become
difficult for the campaign to reach out and help Kerry translate his
myriad little thoughts into two or three Big Thoughts.
MEDIA! CELEBS! (WELL ...) FOOD!
BOOZE! Nice to see the new South Boston convention center filled
last night at the Boston Globe-sponsored media party. It could
be a while before it's filled again. It would have been a great place
for the Democratic National Convention. Why didn't somebody think of
The celebrity-journalist quotient
was rather low, which may have had something to do with the fact that
it was held on Saturday rather than Sunday, when much of the media
arrives. The Reverend Jesse Jackson and Bill Russell were there, and
Little Richard performed. The most notable media celeb I ran into was
New York Times columnist David Brooks, a nice guy whose very
aura exudes "Not a Media Celeb."
The Globe spent a reported
$500,000 on the party. The food was great and the booze was free -
wasted on those of us who had to drive home. The
best-line-of-the-night award goes to WLVI-TV (Channel 56) political
analyst Jon Keller, who told
the Globe's Geoff Edgers: "It's a good marketing ploy for the
convention center, and I thank the Globe for the free beer,
but Ferris wheels and open bars are a dangerous
Yes, there was a Ferris wheel. No,
Media Log did not get on it.
posted at 9:15 AM |
Saturday, July 24, 2004
THE CLINTON NON-SCANDALS
REVISITED. A confession: the scales didn't fall
from my eyes until
September 1998, when Bill Clinton's nemesis, special prosecutor Ken
Starr, issued his pornographic report. Up until then, I had actually
believed that Starr would somehow tie the Monica Lewinsky matter to
Whitewater. My favorite theory was that Clinton associate Vernon
Jordan, who had attempted to find a job for Lewinsky, could be
pressured into testifying about what if any favors he had done for
Clinton's crooked friend Webster
Hubbell, who was
maintaining his silence from his prison cell.
The Starr Report removed all such
illusions. Suddenly, the entire country knew (and believe me, the
country was ahead of most of us in the media) that the president was
being pursued by an out-of-control right-wing extremist whose
obsession with sex revealed a highly disturbed mind. The fever broke,
and Clinton's presidency survived, though it was permanently
Those events still seem so recent -
and so irrelevant following 9/11 - that I wasn't sure I wanted to
relive them. But on Friday evening, I saw a new documentary about the
Clinton non-scandals by Clinton buddy Harry Thomason and Nickolas
Hunting of the President,
at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Based on Joe Conason and Gene Lyons's
The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy
Bill Clinton, the film is flawed, and it's difficult to see where
it's going to find an audience. Fahrenheit 9/11 it isn't. Yet
it does manage to bring home in an occasionally powerful way the
madness that gripped the media and political worlds before and during
Clinton's presidency, all of it driven by - as Hillary Clinton
memorably called it - the vast right-wing conspiracy.
First, the flaws. I nearly laughed
when, near the beginning, journalist-turned-Clinton-aide Sidney
Blumenthal smugly explained that the right decided to destroy Clinton
because it feared the change he represented. You may recall that
during his first two years in the White House, Clinton bet his
presidency on forming alliances with corrupt hacks like Dan
Rostenkowski, who eventually went to prison. Later Clinton hooked up
with such noted reformers as Dick Morris. Clinton's alleged reformist
zeal couldn't have been detected with a microscope. If he had
been more of a reformer, he might have made more of a
Also, Thomason and Perry don't
trust the audience's attention span. The Hunting of the
President is edited as though it were made for MTV, with
head-whipping scene changes and a liberal use of clips from old
black-and-white movies to inject a note of fun into the proceedings.
It doesn't work.
But there is much of value here, as
Thomason and Perry meticulously recount the Arkansas branch of the
Clinton scandals, none of which ever amounted to a damn thing. Most
important, we see Ken Starr for what he was: a politically motivated
Republican activist, an ideological extremist with absolutely no
integrity. It is amazing that, to this day, Starr has not been
disbarred or otherwise sanctioned for his grotesque abuse of office.
Far from it: in April, Starr was named dean
of Pepperdine University's school of law, an institution that has
benefited from the generosity of another right-wing extremist and
fellow-traveler in the Arkansas wars, Richard Mellon Scaife. It's a
job that Starr nearly took in the middle of the Whitewater
investigation. Too bad he didn't.
The undisputed star of The
Hunting of the President is Susan McDougal, the woman who would
not lie. In a long, emotional interview, McDougal recounts how her
ex-husband, the late Jim McDougal, terrified of being sent to prison,
urged her to go along with Starr and his gang, who were trying to get
her to fabricate a story and testify about illegal business dealings
with Bill and/or Hillary Clinton. She recalls her ex-husband telling
her, "They'll give you the story - you don't have to worry about it."
She wouldn't do it, and she served hard time for that refusal, being
imprisoned in a ward for child-killing mothers, locked in a cage on
bus on the way to court appearances as male prisoners masturbated in
front of her and urinated on her.
Dan Moldea, the author
of A Washington Tragedy: How the Death of Vincent Foster Ignited a
Political Firestorm, expresses disgust to Thomason and Perry
about the media's complicity in amplifying Starr's leaks in order to
move the scandal forward, calling it "the most corrupt journalism"
he'd ever seen. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter talks about how
socially unacceptable it was within media circles for a journalist to
write or say anything positive about the Clintons. The Washington
Post's Howard Kurtz recalls the media burying a story about the
Clintons' being cleared of some fairly serious Whitewater
The Hunting of the President
begins and ends with Arkansas senator Dale Bumpers's memorable speech
during Clinton's Senate impeachment trial, in which he said, "When
they say it's not about sex, it's about sex." That would be bad
enough. The deeper truth, though, is that it wasn't even about sex.
It was about getting Clinton by any means necessary.
It's impossible to know whether
Clinton could have been a great president, but we do know this: given
the 10-year-long witch hunt devoted to destroying him and his wife,
he really never had a chance to do much more than hang on and
And Clinton's enemies on the right
and in the media are still at large. They helped destroy Al Gore's
campaign four years ago, and they're primed to go after John Kerry
today. Amid the celebrating in Boston this coming week, Kerry's
strategists had better be ready for what's to come. Because Scaife,
Starr, and their fellow right-wing thugs make Karl Rove look like a
posted at 7:22 AM |
Friday, July 23, 2004
STAY TUNED THIS WEEKEND!
I'll be blogging daily at and around the Democratic National
Convention, including throughout this weekend, so if you're not an
e-mail subscriber to Media Log, please check in frequently. I'm going
to try to take a camera to some events and post those as
Also, the Phoenix staff will
be posting reports all week here.
NO MORE MUSH FOR THE MUDDLED.
Consider the Undecided Voter. He or she is a sorry specimen.
Though surely there are some undecideds who are knowledgeable
about and interested in politics, the general rule is that our U.V.
is disconnected, unaware, bored, and will, in the end, choose on the
basis of John Kerry's hair, or George W. Bush's smirk.
The quest for the U.V. is why
presidential candidates generally say so little that matters. Look at
the 2000 race, a time when - if you listened to the campaign rhetoric
- it appeared that the most important issue on the face of the earth
was whether senior citizens could afford their prescription drugs.
Now, this is not an issue without importance. Still, it was perfectly
obviously that Bush's and Al Gore's handlers had decided this was the
best way of appealing to that narrow sliver of undecided voters
without alienating anyone who had already decided to support them. It
But things may be different this
time. The Boston Globe's Anne Kornblut and Susan Milligan
recently on the Bush phenomenon of catering to the conservative base
in hopes of driving up turnout. They quoted anti-tax activist Grover
Norquist as saying, "Forty-five percent of the country is for Bush,
forty-five percent of the country is for Kerry. How much time do you
spend trying to talk to the 10 percent in the middle who don't know
what they think?"
The conventional wisdom is that
this opens up some room for Kerry in the middle, and perhaps it does.
But what if Norquist's 45-45 figure is actually too low? What if it's
more like 48-48, with four percent undecided (with a point or two for
That may indeed be the case. Last
night, I attended an event at the Mary Baker Eddy Library in which
journalists - White House reporter Linda
Marlantes, and editor Paul
Van Slambrouck, who moderated - kicked it around. What struck me
about Feldmann's and Marlantes's observations was that, in 2004,
almost no one is undecided.
Unlike 2000, this is seen as an
important race about vital issues. "In this election, it seems that
everything is on the table," said Feldmann - war, terrorism, foreign
relations, the economy, and lesser but highly polarizing issues such
as same-sex marriage and Supreme Court appointments. As a result, she
noted, a recent poll showed that the level of voter engagement is
already the same as it was in October 2000, just before that
"There are precious few undecided
voters out there," said Marlantes. She observed that she recently
potential voters in Pennsylvania, one of about 17 swing states, and
found that "people are very, very sure which way they're going to
At that point, Van Slambrouck asked
for a show of hands from the several hundred people in the audience.
Who, he asked, is undecided? Maybe three hands went up.
Which raises an interesting
possibility for the Kerry campaign. Whether you support Kerry or not,
you have to concede that his greatest difficulty as a politician is
his reluctance to take clear, decisive stands on issues. Partly this
is admirable - we live in a world of nuance and grays, and someone
who understands that would be an obvious improvement over what we've
got now. But Kerry takes it to a new level. As Marlantes observed,
when it comes to specific issues, Kerry may not be any more of a
flip-flopper than Bush. (Remember compassionate conservatism? The
faith-based initiative? The promise to stay away from
nation-building?) But Kerry, she said, has the "personality" of
someone who doesn't come off as particularly decisive.
But if there more votes to be
gotten by appealing to the Democratic base rather than pandering to
the U.V.s in the middle, Kerry has an opportunity to articulate a
clear vision of what he wants to do with the presidency should he win
It will start with the Democratic
National Convention. I asked Marlantes and Feldmann what they think
Kerry most needs to get out of the event. Their answers fit well with
the drive-up-your base scenario. Marlantes said Kerry needs to
introduce himself to the country - even to those who already say they
support him, noting that, to an unprecedented degree, the public is
choosing on the basis of party affiliation rather than person. "A lot
of voters still say they don't know very much about John Kerry,"
Marlantes said. Added Feldmann: "This convention is essentially a big
pep rally. They want Democrats to get excited."
What this could add up to is
something very different from- and potentially better than - the mush
to which we've been subjected in recent years. In honor of Dick
Morris, call it the End of Triangulation.
WHAT IF THE U.S. WERE MORE LIKE
MASSACHUSETTS? There were would be more cops and less crime.
There would be higher taxes, but much higher incomes. There would be
more bipartisanship and ticket-splitting. The country would be more
liberal, but not by as much as out-of-staters might think.
Something for Democratic National
Convention delegates to ponder
in the latest CommonWealth
TECH UPDATE. The celebrating
was premature, but now it's official: I managed to get Claris Home
Page back onto my iBook, so the formatting problems of the past week
should be history.
posted at 12:06 PM |
Thursday, July 22, 2004
NO GUTS, DEFINITELY NO GLORY. Margaret Cho joins Whoopi Goldberg and Linda Ronstadt on the list of liberal performers who are paying the price for their beliefs. Unlike Goldberg and Ronstadt, though, Cho is being censored in advance. According to this press release, Cho has been dropped from a Unity ’04 event, scheduled for Avalon in Boston on Monday night, out of fear that her provocative material might harm John Kerry.
Cho's manager, Karen Taussig, tells 365Gay.com:
I am not surprised at the reversal in light of how the Kerry campaign has distanced itself from Whoopi's routine in response to the unrelenting media hype and Republican criticism. It's Whoopi's job as a comedian to say things that are sometimes shocking. I wish they could have backed her up. Dennis Miller can make gay jokes about Senators Kerry and Edwards at a recent Bush rally in Wisconsin to a complete absence of media scrutiny. No one demanded a tape of that event or alleged that his comments as a comedian might reflect poorly on Bush.
According to this AP report, a new bit by Cho on the Iraqi prison scandal is so over-the-top that she had to be escorted from the stage. And the problem is what, exactly?
Perhaps the Kerry campaign didn't have anything to do with this. Perhaps the Human Rights Campaign and the other gay-rights groups organizing this event did it on their own, not wanting to embarrass the nominee.
If that's the case, there's a simple solution. Kerry should personally re-invite Cho back onto the program. After all, if this is how the Democrats and their allies are going to behave, what, precisely, is the point of having Democrats?
posted at 5:27 PM |
QUITE POSSIBLY THE LAST REVIEW OF FAHRENHEIT 9/11 THAT YOU'LL EVER READ. Media Log kicks off its official coverage of the Democratic National Convention today with a review of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. (Click here for Peter Keough's Phoenix review.) I realize that I'm late to the scene, but hey, I've been busy. But since yesterday afternoon was relatively unscheduled, I figured I'd hop over to Harvard Square and watch it with a sympathetic audience.
That turned out to be Mistake #1: rather than the rapturous crowds I'd heard about from the likes of Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman, applauding Moore's every Bush-bashing touch, there were maybe a half-dozen of us. My fellow theater-goers looked, for the most part, like they were trying to get out of the heat as much as they were hoping for some good old-fashioned left-wing agit-prop.
Mistake #2 was thinking that Fahrenheit 9/11 was going to suck. I've never been a fan of factual distortion, regardless of ideology. I'd read Christopher Hitchens's monumental takedown of Moore in Slate, as well as Newsweek's dissections of Moore's alleged problems with the truth (click here and here). The film also did not get off to a promising start in its evocation of the Florida fiasco. Moore, like many unthinking critics, suggested that there was something sinister about Bush's cousin John Ellis making the call from his post at the Fox News Channel. Well, I know Ellis, and I know that he's a good guy. He also happens to be a professional pollster whose job it is to get it right. Perhaps he shouldn't have let himself get wedged into such an awkward position (although he's got a right to make a living, doesn't he?). But he'd be the first one to tell you that the screw-ups that night - not just his, as you may recall - were bad for business.
Then a funny thing happened. I became totally engrossed in Moore's take on the Bush presidency. It was as though we had arrived at roughly the same place by traveling different routes. Moore takes up permanent residence on the wilder edges of Bush-bashing. His insinuation that George W. Bush was slow to act against Al Qaeda because of his family's business ties with Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden family is unsupported. And, as has been widely reported, one of Moore's accusations more or less blew up in his face when former counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke, hardly a Bush fan, took personal responsibility for letting the bin Laden family fly out of the country.
But on broad, thematic, big-picture stuff, Moore has it right, and presents it in a way that is both funny and moving. Critics have gone after Moore for making fun of Bush as he sat stone-faced in that Florida classroom for seven minutes after learning that the second World Trade Center tower had been hit. Well, why? After all, he knew at that point that the country was under attack. Didn't occur to him that he could have politely excused himself and then gone and made a decision or something? (Oh, right; that's what Cheney's for.)
Moore has also been criticized for exploiting Lila Lipscomb, whose son, Michael, a sergeant in the Army, was killed in Iraq. Indeed, Moore depicts Lipscomb's grief in the rawest manner imaginable. But there's also no doubt that Lipscomb wanted Moore to be there - to get out the message that this former conservative Democratic war supporter has been radicalized by the death of her son, and that she wants others to know what is going on in Iraq. Here's what Lipscomb told the Guardian recently:
The reason I didn't hesitate was because I was carrying my son's words with me. And as a mother I have to carry each and every day the fact, could I have done a little bit more? Could I have been more vocal so that the president would not have been given that much authority within himself? And nobody can make that go away. My son got sent into harm's way by a decision made by the president of the United States that was based on a lie. Would my son still be here today if I had had my uprising then?
Of course, war is a terrible thing, and intellectually we understand that Lipscomb's grief was amplified thousands of times over in World War II, just as we understand that Moore's depiction of normal, happy people in Iraq before the war is completely at odds with the totalitarian terror with which Saddam Hussein ruled his country.
But we also know that the world is an ugly, complicated place - that Iran and North Korea, and, yes, so-called friends such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia may be bigger threats to the US than Iraq was. We now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and no real ties to Al Qaeda (unlike Iran). More than 900 American soldiers have been killed, and we're placing all our hopes in an appointed prime minister who may turn out to be Saddam Lite. The international community was right. Bush was wrong.
The Bush presidency has been a tragedy in many ways - for the country and for the world. A few factual quibbles aside, Moore has captured that tragedy. If the Democrats had any guts, they'd show Fahrenheit 9/11 on one of those big plasma screens at the FleetCenter next week.
MEDIA LOG'S ASSIGNMENT DESK KICKS INTO GEAR! The Globe's Hiawatha Bray has a good piece today on how WiFi-equipped laptops may be a security threat at the Democratic National Convention. According to Bray, there won't be any WiFi inside the media area, and laptops may be rendered unusable unless the WiFi card is turned off.
Okay. Now, Hiawatha, for your next piece, please investigate this lead paragraph from an article in Tuesday's New York Times:
Work spaces have been assigned and wireless Internet access has been arranged. Phone lines, electric outlets, parking spots for satellite trucks: all are details being worked out for the massive media center that will be created in Midtown Manhattan for the Republican National Convention at the end of August.
Why New York and not Boston? Why the Republicans and not the Democrats? Why the Yankees - oh, never mind. Just find out, okay?
HOWIE CARR, "SIMPERING CLOWN." Bob Somerby nails the bad boy of the Boston Herald and WRKO Radio (AM 680). (Scroll down a bit.)
TECH NOTES. As you might have surmised, Media Log is back at full computational strength. The Apple store was able to restore my data, but I had to reinstall the software myself. My coal-era Web-design program, Claris Home Page, would not install, so I'm using the free Mozilla Composer. It has some nice features - for one thing, I like not having to switch back and forth between OS 9 and X. However, it leaves a few things to be desired.
If anyone has a suggestion for a good, cheap WYSIWYG Web-design program for OS X, I'm all ears.
On the bright side, I got upgraded to Panther. Nice file management!
NEW IN THIS WEEK'S PHOENIX. A delegate's guide to the Boston media. Plus, a breathtakingly incomplete guide to the national political press.
posted at 11:14 AM |
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
DOING THE RIGHT THING. Sandy Berger stepped aside from John Kerry's presidential campaign almost immediately yesterday, which shows that he understands the seriousness of the charges against him. Even if his removal of highly classified documents from the National Archives was inadvertent - even if he didn't stuff them in his socks - he's nevertheless made himself radioactive to Kerry's presidential hopes.
This Washington Post story, by Susan Schmidt, is much tougher and more informative than Eric Lichtblau's effort in the New York Times.
Fortunately for Kerry, the Republicans may already be overplaying their hand. According to Schmidt, Georgia senator Saxby Chambliss, who won his seat in part by impugning the patriotism of triple-amputee war veteran Max Cleland, is charging that Berger supplied stolen documents to the Kerry campaign. His evidence ... well, he doesn't have any.
TENSION CITY! As Bush 41 used to say. Or was that Dana Carvey? Last night I went to the local Apple store to pick up my iBook, which had blown its logic board the previous week. The hard drive had been (gasp) reformatted!
Supposedly the drive had been completely backed up at the store before it was shipped out. It says so right on the receipt, which I have been staring at with the hopefulness of a child staring up the chimney on Christmas Eve. But the guy who waited on me had no way of checking that out. So I find out this morning whether I've lost any data, including several years' worth of photos.
Yes, I should have a better backup strategy, but such things are expensive. Not as expensive as this, though. Media Log's fingers, toes, arms, and legs are crossed. And if Steve Jobs spares me, I promise to get an external Firewire drive.
posted at 7:55 AM |
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
A NATIONAL-SECURITY CRISIS FOR KERRY. For the second time in recent weeks, a respected national-security adviser to John Kerry has gone into total-meltdown mode.
First it was Joseph Wilson, the former ambassador who visited Niger in February 2002 to investigate claims that Iraq had sought to buy yellowcake uranium. Wilson loudly and publicly complained that the White House had ignored his finding that there was nothing to the Iraq-Niger connection. He also denied that his wife, CIA covert officer Valerie Plame, whose identity was revealed in a Robert Novak column, had recommended him for the mission.
Thanks to the Senate Intelligence Committee report and Wilson's own book, we now know that Wilson actually did stumble across evidence that Saddam Hussein's agents may have attempted to buy Nigerien yellowcake as recently as 1999. The committee also found that Plame recommended her husband in pretty strong terms. That makes it seem likely that whoever outed her to Novak was doing so not as political retribution, but to explain how it was that Wilson came to be chosen for a mission for which he was clearly unqualified.
Wilson defends himself in this Salon story. I'm unimpressed.
It gets worse. Now comes word that Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton's national-security adviser, is under investigation for having removed classified documents from the National Archives in connection with his testimony before the 9/11 commission. "Sandy Berger Probed over Terror Memos" is the headline on this Fox News story. Check this out:
Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket, pants and socks, and also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio.How stupid can you get?
I mention Fox because you know that Hannity, O'Reilly, et al. are going to beat this into the ground, right into the run-up for the Democratic National Convention.
What does this have to do with Kerry? Well, here is a recent press release touting Kerry's ties to Berger. And here is a Washington Times story on Wilson's role in the Kerry campaign, published months before that would have been controversial.
Josh Marshall is skeptical about the timing of the Berger story, noting that it's been the subject of a rather low-key investigation since last October. By Marshall's logic, the White House gets a two-fer by springing this now: diverting attention from the pending report of the 9/11 commission, which is likely to be highly critical of George W. Bush; and smearing Kerry by association just as he is about to accept his party's nomination.
Well, okay. And I'm certainly not naive about how these things work. But the fact is that the polls continue to show that national security is the area where Kerry is least trusted by voters. Yes, I know how mind-boggling that is. Bush may be the worst national-security president we've ever had, while Kerry is an experienced internationalist well-suited to navigating a post-9/11 world. But the country is scared, and at such times people tend to be more comfortable with a leader who blows things up and kills people, whatever the reason.
The fact is that Wilson, and now Berger, are dead weight for Kerry. He needs to throw them overboard before the FleetCenter curtain officially rises. In Berger's case, at least, it may not be fair. But when has that ever had anything to do with it?
posted at 2:37 PM |
Monday, July 19, 2004
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES PERSIST. Applying the three-strikes-and-you're-out theory to blogging, I am abandoning today's attempt to post more than a sentence to Media Log. Meanwhile, click here.
posted at 9:24 AM |
Friday, July 16, 2004
BACKDOOR CENSORSHIP. Freedom of speech is a great thing. Too bad we're using the tax code and arcane campaign-finance laws to regulate it to death. I can think of several examples of liberals and progressives being silenced or threatened. The most outrageous: a suggestion that advertisements for Fahrenheit 9/11 could be banned because they amount to illegal campaign contributions to John Kerry.
This morning, though, two examples of conservatives being targeted for speaking their minds.
The first involves Governor Mitt Romney, who delivered a speech on presidential politics earlier this week. Romney certainly deserves criticism on substantive grounds, and Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh sticks it to him today. More troubling, though, is this Globe story, by Raphael Lewis, reporting that Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman Phil Johnston is filing an ethics complaint against Romney for politicking while on the taxpayer's time. Says Johnston:
The entire trip was political. He [Romney] went to Washington to bash John Kerry to the National Press Corps as a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign. Now we find out he stopped off in New Jersey for their Republican Party. Why should the taxpayers pay one dime for the cost of this trip?
The second example is a story in today's New York Times by David Kirkpatrick, who reports that Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has filed a complaint with the IRS charging that the Reverend Jerry Falwell's advocacy of George W. Bush's campaign violates the tax-exempt status of Falwell's religious organization. The Reverend Barry Lynn, head of Americans United, tells the Times:
I certainly hope that this sends a clear message that religious organizations have got to operate within federal tax laws restricting partisan politicking. And I think the message is that the campaign has been reckless in its approach to churches, recklessly trying to lure them into political activities.
Johnston and Lynn may well be right, and Romney and Falwell may indeed be violating some law or regulation. And you could certainly argue that it wouldn't be difficult for them to get on the correct side of the law. Romney could have used campaign funds to pay for his trip. Falwell could haved used his separate lobbying organization to get out his pro-Bush message - as indeed he claims he did.
But political speech ought to be the most unregulated, freewheeling speech there is. Mitt Romney and Jerry Falwell - and Michael Moore and anyone else - ought to feel free to speak out on public issues without worrying that they've broken some provision of the tax code, or violated campaign-finance laws.
In our understandable but misguided zeal to get special-interest money out of politics, we're enroaching on free-speech rights.
A few months ago I wrote about what's wrong with campaign-finance reform. Click here to read it.
posted at 10:28 AM |
Thursday, July 15, 2004
CONVEY GETS #2 JOB AT HERALD. One of the most respected editors in Pat Purcell's media mini-empire has been named managing editor of the Boston Herald. Kevin Convey, editor-in-chief of Purcell's Community Newspaper chain, returns to One Herald Square, where for many years he was managing editor for features under former editor Andy Costello.
A Herald source who asked not to be named said Convey's appointment was greeted with "a great sigh of relief, especially in the upper newsroom ranks." However, the source added, staff members have been told "not to expect any changes" to the downscale-tabloid formula that Purcell has been pursuing to one degree or another for the past year-plus.
Convey could not immediately be reached for comment. Several years ago, Purcell dispatched Convey to run Community Newspapers - comprising about 100 papers, most of them weeklies, in Greater Boston and on Cape Cod - shortly after purchasing the chain from Fidelity Capital for a reported $150 million.
In the spring of 2003, Purcell brought in Ken Chandler, a former Herald editor and former New York Post editor and publisher, as a consultant. In an effort to boost sagging circulation and revenues, Chandler began tarting up the product, adding a more explicitly tabloid edge to a paper whose main strengths had been local news, sports, and business.
That trend accelerated this past winter, when Costello was forced out, Chandler was named editorial director, and former Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle was brought in. Costello's managing editor, Andrew Gully, left several weeks ago. But Convey's status as a member of the previous ruling troika is sure to play well in a newsroom battered by a raft of departures and worries about the paper's direction and future.
The Herald's press release says in full:
Patrick J. Purcell, president of Herald Media, Inc. announced today the appointment of Kevin R. Convey as managing editor of the Boston Herald. Convey will be responsible for the editorial operation of the Herald, and will report directly to Editorial Director Kenneth A. Chandler.
"This is a job I've been working toward my entire career," said Convey. "I'm thrilled with the opportunity to work with Pat and Ken and the first-class cadre of journalists at the Herald."
Convey began his career at the Boston Herald in 1981 as a business reporter. In 1984, he was appointed assistant managing editor, responsible for the news department. Convey left the Herald for a brief period to become articles editor for Boston Magazine, and returned in 1990 as editor of the Sunday Boston Herald. He was promoted to managing editor for features and Sunday in 1994. Since February of 2001, he has served as editor-in-chief of Herald Media's Community Newspaper Company, overseeing the editorial direction of four suburban dailies, 89 weekly newspapers and numerous specialty publications.
"Kevin's tenacity, integrity and keen sense of our business are second to none. He has dedicated his professional life to journalism, and I am thrilled to give him this opportunity," said Purcell.
Chandler said, "I'm delighted to welcome Kevin aboard. We have been colleagues on and off since 1986 and I know he shares my vision for the future of the Herald."
Convey and his wife, Kathleen, live in Brockton with their two children.
Staff reporter Tom Mashberg, who chairs the Herald editorial unit of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston, praises the appointment. "He was a very popular editor the last time through," Mashberg says. "There's a good comfort factor in having him back."
Mashberg adds that he hopes Convey is able to persuade management to increase the size of the reporting and editing staffs.
"There are a lot of intelligent people working at the Herald trying to make it a good paper and keep it alive," Mashberg says.
Convey had a reputation for having the most eclectic interests of the old Costello/Gully/Convey troika. Left to his own devices, he would be a good bet to come up with some creative ways of attracting younger, smarter readers. That's going to be difficult to do in the context of the sensationalized product that Chandler has created.
Still, this is the best news to hit One Herald Square in quite some time.
posted at 2:43 PM |
NEW IN THIS WEEK'S PHOENIX. Months after claims were dismisssed that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium in Africa, the story is getting a new life. And the right wing is delighted.
NOT A BUG, A FEATURE! Media Log yesterday was hit with a catastrophic computer meltdown. Until it is solved, blogging will be erratic, and formatting will be affected as well. Thank you in advance for your patience.
posted at 8:51 AM |
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
THE LAST GATEKEEPER. I
suppose it's not fair to stick it to Tom McPhail on the basis of one
short quote in the current USA Today. But I'll do it anyway:
he would expect no less.
McPhail, a journalism professor at
the University of Missouri, is quoted in a piece
by Peter Johnson on the credentialing of bloggers at the Democratic
That bloggers get front
seats bothers Tom McPhail, a journalism professor at the
University of Missouri.
"They're certainly not committed
to being objective. They thrive on rumor and innuendo," McPhail
says. Bloggers "should be put in a different category, like
Where does one even begin? Well,
okay. I'll begin with something small: I'm not sure what Johnson
means by "front seats." Most bloggers, I imagine, will be allowed to
roam the perimeter, outside the convention hall, and to work in a
press area for journalists from smaller news organizations, such as
Farm Implements Quarterly or some such thing.
But to get back to McPhail. Surely
he knows that some journalists have jobs in which they are expected
to be "objective," whatever that means (try "fair"), and some are
lucky enough to be opinion-mongers.
Most of the best bloggers -
Schechter - write for print
publications, too. Mickey
Kaus, who's admittedly gone
a bit daft with his Kerry hatred, but who's still entertaining, is a
longtime print veteran. Besides, he blogs for Slate.
Isn't that a non-pretend news organization?
But all this takes McPhail's
observations too seriously. The days of gatekeeper journalism are
long gone. Letting bloggers in is no different from credentialing
alternative weeklies - or, for that matter, Peter Jennings, Dan
Rather, and Tom Brokaw.
The old order is dying. I guess
word hasn't gotten out to Missouri. (Via
posted at 11:03 AM |
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. SO WHY
DIDN'T THE TIMES? As Casey Stengel used to say, "You could
look it up." Incredibly, the big-time national political reporters
who help to define the presidential campaign all too often couldn't
Today's example: the New York
Times. A front-page
story today by Richard
Stevenson and Jodi Wilgoren on George W. Bush's defense of his Iraq
policy claims that John Kerry has changed his explanation for why he
voted against $87 billion in reconstruction money for Iraq and
Afghanistan last year. They write:
In an apparent response to
Mr. Cheney, Mr. Kerry also said he was "proud" that he and Mr.
Edwards had voted against the administration's request for $87
billion to help finance military and reconstruction efforts in
Iraq and Afghanistan because "we knew the policy had to be
changed." That was a new explanation by Mr. Kerry for a vote
that has been a point of much contention during the
At the fund-raiser, Mr. Kerry
also attacked the administration as unnecessarily sending young
soldiers into harm's way, and he spoke about the votes he and Mr.
Edwards cast last fall against the $87 billion.
"I'm proud to say that John
joined me in voting against that $87 billion when we knew the
policy had to be changed, we had to get it right, we needed other
countries involved, we needed to reach out to our allies, we
needed to put other boots on the ground," Mr. Kerry
Earlier, Mr. Kerry had said
he voted against the bill because he thought the war and
reconstruction should be financed by rolling back part of the Bush
administration's tax cuts. That, he explained, was why he had
voted for the $87 billion appropriation when it included an
amendment demanding that the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans
be reversed, then against it once that provision was stripped.
His explanation has been mocked as a flip-flop by
Republicans and featured in their campaign
So there you have it: Republican
talking points dressed up and trotted out as serious political
analysis. Kerry's a flip-flopper! But wait - here is what
Kerry said at a Democratic debate on October 26 of last year,
according to the Boston Globe's Patrick Healy and Anne
Senator John F. Kerry of
Massachusetts, who has suffered intense criticism for his
seemingly ambiguous position on Iraq, sought to present a clear
explanation for his decision to authorize military force but later
oppose the $87 billion proposal to pay for the war's aftermath.
"It is absolutely consistent, because what I voted for was to
hold Saddam Hussein accountable, but to do it right," Kerry said.
"This president has done it wrong every step of the way." He
ridiculed Bush's efforts to internationalize the war as a
And check out what Noelle Straub
wrote in the Boston Herald last October 17:
Presidential hopeful Sen.
John F. Kerry said he opposed the funding because he believes
Bush has not put forward an adequate plan to protect troops and
bring in other nations to help and because the money comes at
the expense of domestic priorities.
"We need to stand up to this
president," Kerry (D-Mass.) said. "They've already proven they
can't be trusted, they've already proven that they're willing to
mislead, and this particular plan for $87 billion is top down,
starting with Halliburton and the other great friends of the
Is it true that Kerry supported an
amendment to fund the $87 billion by rolling back tax cuts for the
rich? Yes. But the Times tag team of Stevenson and Wilgoren
makes it sound like that was Kerry's only reason for opposing
the $87 billion.
Kerry deserves to be whacked for
failing to explain himself clearly, and for that ridiculous clip in
which he says that he actually voted for the $87 billion before he
voted against it. But Stevenson and Wilgoren are taking dictation
from the Bush-Cheney campaign, claiming that Kerry has flip-flopped
on his reasons for opposing the $87 billion even though he's actually
been a model of consistency.
By the way, Media Log thinks Kerry
got it wrong twice: he should have voted against authorizing Bush to
go to war, but then he should have voted in favor of the $87 billion.
But this isn't about anyone's opinion - this is about getting it
posted at 10:50 AM |
Monday, July 12, 2004
GUILD AGREES TO GLOBE
CONTRACT. How long had Boston Globe newsroom employees
been working without a contract? Not long ago I ran into an old
colleague at a party. He'd been at the Globe for some time.
And he told me, laughing, that he'd never worked under a union
Until now - or, rather, soon. Today
the Globe and the Boston Newspaper Guild announced they had
reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract. Here's the
press release, in full:
BOSTON, MA - Monday, July
12, 2004 - The Boston Globe and the Boston Newspaper Guild, Local
31245, announced today that they have reached a tentative
agreement on a five-year labor pact covering a term from January
1, 2001 through December 31, 2005. The agreement is subject to
ratification by the union's rank and file membership scheduled for
August 5, 2004.
The wages for the first four
years reflect the pattern increases in place with the Globe's
other unions of approximately 7.5% in increases for Guild members
over that span. The newspaper and the union also negotiated a $12
per week increase for January 1, 2005 and a further $12.50 per
week increase on July 1, 2005, constituting an approximate
combined increase of 2.14 percent.
The new agreement provides
significant new operating flexibility for the Globe aimed at
making it more competitive in a changing media marketplace. In
return, the Globe agreed as a quid pro quo for such flexibility to
increases in funding for the Guild's Health Plan that will result
in significantly reduced health care payroll contributions by
Guild covered employees.
"The new agreement represents a
fair balancing of the competitive needs of the Globe in a changing
marketplace with the needs of our employees to have appropriate
protections with such changes as well as addressing the rising
health care costs impacting everyone," said Globe Senior Vice
President and lead company negotiator Greg Thornton. Steve
Richards, president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, said of the
tentative agreement: "It was a long and difficult negotiation but
the union's negotiating committee feels this tentative agreement
brings stability to our health fund, which was one of our primary
goals. We also feel it protects our members and our union while
giving the Globe added business flexibility."
Both the Globe and the Boston
Newspaper Guild declined to comment further on the pact until the
union's ratification meeting August 5. The agreement culminates
more than three and a half years of negotiations between the
It looks like the Globe, at
any rate, will have labor peace during the Democratic National
Convention. Would that Boston mayor Tom Menino - still tied up in an
ugly dispute with the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association - could
say the same.
But notice that three and a half
years of the Globe contract is retroactive, and that the
five-year period that it covers expires in just 17 months. Assuming
it gets ratified, it sounds like the negotiators ought to take maybe
a week off - and then return to the negotiating table.
posted at 5:09 PM |
STAHL'D OUT. I hope I don't
see a worse interview all year than the one Lesley Stahl conducted on
60 Minutes last night with John Kerry and John Edwards. Mrs.
Media Log was covering her eyes in embarrassment as Stahl alternated
between oozing unctuously and taking the viewers for
The worst moment came when Stahl
tried to play gotcha with Kerry on his vote in favor of the war in
Iraq. She started by running that clip of Kerry saying that before he
voted against the $87 billion in reconstruction money he voted for
it. That was obviously not one of Kerry's finer moments, and she was
right to bring it up.
But then she tried to use that as a
way of demonstrating that Kerry can't give a straight answer on
whether he regrets his vote in the fall of 2002 authorizing the
president to go to war. Her news peg was last week's Senate
Intelligence Committee report.
Among other things, she noted that the Democratic vice-chairman, Jay
Rockefeller, now says he would have voted against the war if he knew
then what he knows now. Why, Stahl demanded of Kerry, can't
you just admit you made a mistake?
The transcript isn't available yet,
News's synopsis matches my
Is Kerry for or against
the war in Iraq? "I think the president made a mistake in the way
he took us to war," says Kerry. "I am against the war - the way
the president went to war was wrong."
The Senate Intelligence
Committee has just issued a report saying that the basis for the
war was erroneous, and that there weren't weapons of mass
destruction. Given what he knows now about that report, would
Kerry have made the same decision?
"What I voted for was an
authority for the president to go to war as a last resort if
Saddam Hussein did not disarm and we needed to go to war," says
Kerry. "I think the way he went to war was a mistake."
"I know you want to make this
black and white, but the difference is - if John Kerry were
president of the United States, we would never be in this place,"
adds Edwards. "He would never have done what George Bush did. He
would have done the hard work to build the alliances and the
"Why build an alliance if they
didn't have weapons of mass destruction," asks Stahl.
"We would have found out, that's
the point," says Edwards.
Regardless, Kerry says he
doesn't regret his vote: "I believe, based on the information we
have, it was the correct vote."
Edwards has said that if he is
elected "no young Americans will go to war needlessly."
"That's true," says Edwards. "He
[President Bush] didn't do the things that should have
been done before taking this country to war. This is not a -; I mean, we've now said it 10 times, this is not a
Gee whiz, why can't Kerry give a
yes-or-no answer? It's no wonder that Edwards got irritated with
Stahl's disingenuous questions - and Edwards is not someone who gets
easily irritated, at least not in public.
Stahl would have known better if
she had read the
Boston Globe's Kerry bio.
Here's what Kerry said before his vote giving Bush the power
to wage war:
The vote that I will give
to the president is for one reason and one reason only, to disarm
Iraq of weapons of mass destruction if we cannot accomplish
that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint
conference with our allies. I expect him [Bush] to fulfill
the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days
- to work with the United Nations Security Council ... and to "act
with our allies at our side" if we have to disarm Saddam
Hussein by force. [p. 346]
In other words, Kerry's position on
the war today is precisely the same as it was in the months leading
up to it. He has been absolutely consistent. As Edwards said, it's
not a matter of "black and white." To the extent that Kerry later turned against the war, it was because Bush didn't wait for the inspections to play out, didn't consult with our allies so much as dictate to them, and didn't act with the explicit authority of the Security Council.
Is this really so difficult?
Apparently it is if you're Lesley Stahl.
posted at 11:22 AM |
Thursday, July 08, 2004
NEW IN THIS WEEK'S
'90s Show": Its dubious
literary merits aside, Bill Clinton's My Life sparks nostalgia
for a decade of peace, prosperity, and presidential sex.
posted at 12:11 PM |
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
JOHN SQUARED. So it's
Edwards, probably the best
of some not-great choices. Edwards proved himself to be by far the
most engaging public personality in the Democratic presidential
primaries. His biggest problem, of course, was that he couldn't get
anybody actually to vote for him. Also, is he going to be willing to
rough up his vaunted Mr. Nice Guy image by playing the attack-dog
role normally filled by running mates?
- I know people fell into a
catatonic state whenever Dick Gephardt's name came up, but Gephardt
might have at least brought Missouri into the Blue Zone. Can Edwards
help Kerry win his home state of North Carolina? Probably
- Does anyone think the Bush
campaign was really worried about running against a trial
lawyer last winter? Get ready for a barrage of accusations about
how Edwards made his fortune. Before the Edwards campaign fell apart,
there were already some websites out there claiming that he got rich
with a combination of junk science and courtroom histrionics. Are the
Kerry people ready to fire back?
- The most telling criticism that
Kerry had supposedly murmured about Edwards was that the guy simply
isn't experienced or knowledgeable enough to be president. Now,
Edwards is no Dan Quayle, but he's no Al Gore, either. How is this
going to play in a post-9/11 world?
That said, Kerry did okay. His
dalliance with John McCain already proved he was willing to run with
someone more charismatic than he. Edwards will be an asset to his
campaign, and help cast him in a more centrist light.
posted at 11:22 AM |
Sunday, July 04, 2004
HAPPY FOURTH! The family and
I are heading over to Salem for fireworks. I'll be in San Francisco
most of next week for the annual conference of Little
People of America, where
I'll be giving a reading and trying to move some
product. Blogging will be
light to non-existent.
posted at 7:08 PM |
Friday, July 02, 2004
DEPT. OF SELF-PROMOTION I. A
wicked good time was had by all yesterday on National Public Radio's
The Connection, where host Dick Gordon interviewed me about my
book on the culture of dwarfism, Little
People. Laura Zirpolo
of Little People of America joined us for the hour. The occasion was
next week's LPA national conference, in San Francisco, where I'll be
reading at a book event.
and you can listen to the show and flip through a photo
DEPT. OF SELF-PROMOTION II.
The Columbia Journalism Review's CampaignDesk.org website has
just posted a Q&A
with yours truly.
Slate's Paul Boutin has posted an ode
to the glories of Firefox, one of several alternatives to Internet
Explorer that I wrote
about a few weeks ago.
Boutin is using Windows, but it sounds pretty much like the Mac
One thing I didn't know until I
read Boutin was that the Mozilla folks have upgraded Firefox from
version 0.8 to 0.91. I grabbed myself the new version and found that
a formatting problem I'd recently encountered on MSNBC.com (including
Newsweek) went away. Good news!
posted at 4:33 PM |
THE BEAST WITHIN. A few
years ago - quite a few years ago, actually - Ted Koppel traveled to
Cambodia for an incredible moment: the trial of Pol
Pot, one of the great
monsters of the 20th century. For two nights, Nightline showed
Pol Pot being tried for his crimes against humanity.
Thought to have been responsible
for the deaths of more than a million of his fellow Cambodians, Pol
Pot was every bit as evil as Hitler, Stalin, or Mao, lacking only the
means to project his horrors beyond the borders of his own
The trial, as I recall, was
something of a farce, aimed more at getting his fellow mass murderers
off the hook than at bringing Pol Pot to justice. Still, seeing him
being brought to account, no matter how cynically, should have made a
far greater impression than it did. But in the hyper-fast media cycle
of 1990s America, so-called big stories - some of which weren't very
big at all - began to blend together. O.J. equals Princess Diana
equals Monica equals Pol Pot. It's only gotten worse
I was thinking about Pol Pot last
night as I watched the arraignment of Saddam What an amazing thing to
see this evil man, the cause of so much misery and torture and death,
brought into an Iraqi courtroom to hear the particulars of his evil
read against him.
He looked good, didn't
I'm sure Hannah Arendt's phrase
banality of evil," which
she used to describe Adolf Eichmann, will be bandied about quite a
lot in the days and months ahead. I'm not sure if it applies. Perhaps
to the flunkies who were led in after Saddam, corrupt, amoral little
men like Tariq Aziz.
But to Saddam himself? Saddam isn't
Eichmann. He's Hitler. Watching him snarl and snap on television, he
didn't strike me as a bureaucrat dispensing death and torture like
another might dispense rice and road improvements. No, this was the
monster himself, and you could see it, see the evil, as he lectured
the judge. Other than the gassing of the Kurds, he didn't even bother
to deny anything, going so far as to say the Kuwaitis deserved
John Burns's article
in today's New York Times is literary bordering on
magisterial, and thus is what you should make sure you
But do we understand what's going
on? Do we realize that this is a historic moment? Or will this blow
by us, to replaced by another update from the Scott Peterson trial as
soon as the novelty begins to wear off?
MORE ON MOORE. Media Log has
such diligent readers. D.S. found the link to the Michael Moore quote
that Joe Scarborough and Christopher Hitchens were kicking
around on Wednesday.
are the offending comments:
There is a lot of talk
amongst Bush's opponents that we should turn this war over to the
United Nations. Why should the other countries of this world,
countries who tried to talk us out of this folly, now have to
clean up our mess? I oppose the U.N. or anyone else risking the
lives of their citizens to extract us from our debacle. I'm sorry,
but the majority of Americans supported this war once it began
and, sadly, that majority must now sacrifice their children until
enough blood has been let that maybe - just maybe - God and the
Iraqi people will forgive us in the end.
of Wednesday's Scarborough Country is now online.
This is much ado about not much,
but it's MSNBC, so I'm being redundant. On the one hand, Moore is
considerably to Media Log's left; though I think the war in Iraq was
misguided, I can't imagine how anyone couldn't at least wish that it
leads to a decent, stable new order in that country.
But the way I read Moore's piece,
he's simply asserting that it's not going to happen, whereas
Scarborough and Hitchens seem to accuse him of hoping that
it's not going to happen. Two different things.
And how can anyone argue that
French and German troops should lose their lives for our mistake?
Mind you, I don't want to see anyone lose his or her life in
Iraq. But this is our mistake, not theirs. Which, I think, is Moore's point.
posted at 11:49 AM |
Thursday, July 01, 2004
MOORE AFTER THIS. Does
anyone know what Joe Scarborough and Christopher Hitchens were
talking about on MSNBC last night? I tuned in briefly during the
closing moments of another putrid Red Sox-Yankees game. They were
claiming that Michael Moore had posted some outrageous comments on
- something to the effect that more Americans must die in Iraq in
order to wash away the sins of the Bush White House. Hitchens was of
the opinion that Moore was taking the same line as the jihadi
wasn't up this morning, so I don't know exactly what they said. But
when I cruised on over to Moore's website this morning, I could find
nothing remotely resembling what Scarborough and Hitchens were
claiming. What is going on?
We already know that Hitchens
Anyway, Media Log seeks
elucidation. If anyone can point to Moore's alleged remarks,
me a line.
IT DEPENDS ON WHAT THE MEANING
OF "READ" IS. Jack Shafer finds
that not everyone who's reviewed Bill Clinton's turgid, endless My
Life has actually, well, you know, read it. I have. On the other
hand, I guess that's why my review won't appear until next week.
NEW IN THIS WEEK'S
PHOENIX. The Seventh
Annual Muzzle Awards. Bring
a copy to Governor Mitt Romney - but be sure to tell him the
Phoenix is a newspaper, not a leaflet!
TUNE IN THIS MORNING. I'll
appear on The
Radio (90.9 FM), at 11 a.m.
to talk about my book on the culture of dwarfism, Little
People. Appearing with
me will be Laura Zirpolo, who helped organize last year's annual
conference of Little People of America.
posted at 9:08 AM |
MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.