Saturday, September 03, 2005

Duhball with Chris Matthews

The Florida Masochist reminds us of an old rule:

Never ask a question in an interview if you don't have a clue to what the answer will be.

The FM then tells us what happened last Wednesday to the eponymous host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews when he forgot that rule, assuming he ever knew it in the first place.

Matthews was interviewing Texas Governor Rick Perry about his state’s plans to help Katrina victims. He fired questions at Perry in typical Chris Matthews' "God, I know so much" style.

Perry mentioned housing people from New Orleans in Houston's Astrodome.

Matthews pressed about costs and the availability of the Astrodome, obviously unaware the Astro baseball team hadn’t used the Astrodome since 1999.

The following is from MSNBC’s Hardball transcript for August 31:

MATTHEWS: Where‘s Texas getting the money for this—for this effort?

PERRY: Well, you know, we will find the dollars. The fact of the matter is, this is—by the grace of God, this could have been Houston, Texas, that we were talking about today, instead of New Orleans. And our neighbors are in need and we will find the dollars to make it work.

MATTHEWS: A small point. I don‘t mean to be whimsical, but, at this time, it wouldn‘t hurt for a little whimsy. How did you get the Astros out of their ballpark?

PERRY: Well, they‘re playing at a place called Minute Maid now, not the Astrodome.

MATTHEWS: Oh, really? I‘m brought up to...

PERRY: Welcome—welcome to this year in baseball here, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, I haven‘t been follow them that closely. But I will in the future.

PERRY: You certainly haven‘t.

MATTHEWS: Thanks to your state‘s wonderful hospitality. It‘s great having you on. And congratulations to your state. It shows a great value system, that you‘re doing this.

PERRY: Thank you, Chris.

It’s not for nothing that many people call Matthews' show Duhball.

Thanks Florida Masochist for the cue and the commentary.

Hold back some of your Katrina money

It's wonderful so many are contributing generously to The Red Cross, Salvation Army and other organizations involved in Katrina relief activities.

But I hope people hold back some of their Katrina money for at least a few weeks or months. That way, they can target their "held back" money as they learn more about who needs what and what various organizations have done and are doing.

Those Louisiana NG members serving in Iraq who may have lost a loved one and maybe everything material they had at home: I want to find out how to target some money to them.

MSM has mostly told us about the chaos and looters and Bush-blaming pontifications of Jesse Jackson and others. But you know that during the worst hours in the worst places there were people acting heroically to make things better. Ministers, for example, who with their congregants and others organized to feed neighbors and homeless, and care as best they could for the sick.

MSM will get around to telling us about those heroes. Some of my money will go to the churches and other organizations those people are associated with.

In the next few weeks, we'll hear of hundreds of organizations who are helping Katrina victims in various ways. I'm keeping my ear out for ones that seek to empower the victims and build on their strengths.

Where are the organizations that believe the best therapy for most victims is the dignity and sense of hope that comes with a job; and so will be offering people a chance to work on a day basis in the clean up effort until more permanent jobs are available. I'll support those organizations.

Thank God we have the government, The Red Cross, Salvation Army and other organizations. Only they can do the massive resource allocation and service delivery work.

But thank God too for those small groups and organizations, often staffed by volunteers, and close to the people they serve. They provide effective, diverse and sometimes unique services the large services organizations don't.

Hold back some money for them. I think you'll be glad you did.

And look to bloggers to take the lead in telling you about them.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Planning a fact attack on Bush blamers? Go here.

At Betsy's Page, she has a post that begins:

EU Rota does some Lexis/Nexis research and takes on the theme that it is Bush's fault that budget requests were cut from plans for flood control in New Orleans. Guess what, Clinton did the same thing. And of course, even if we had supplied all the money requested by the Army Corps of Engineers, none of those plans would have had an effect in time for this hurricane.

If you have a soft spot for Bush blamers, warn them away from Betsy's Page.

On the other hand, if you're planning a fact attack on Bush blamers, Betsy's the place to get linked to some high caliber facts.

Look who else Raleigh's N &O blamed

On August 29 Raleigh's News & Observer ran this front page headline:

Off-duty officer blamed in death

The trouble with the headline was that no one except The N&O was blaming the officer.

To its credit, the next day the paper placed a correction in the same front page spot where the "officer blamed" headline ran. The N&O offered no explanation for its headline.

The August 29 headline brings to mind another recent N&O headline that assigned blame.

Airstrikes kill Mideast truce (July 16, Pg. 16A)

The headline ran above an AP story that began:

A Mideast truce was in tatters as Israel killed six Hamas militants in a series of airstrikes Friday and early today after Palestinian fighters unleashed a deadly barrage of rockets and mortars.

Further into the story, the AP reported the Israeli response followed not just the barrage but 2 terrorist attacks in the preceding 3 days which killed 6 Israelis and wounded 90 others.

The AP reported the attacks many paragraphs into its story; and that part of its report doesn't appear in the story The N&O ran. So perhaps N&O editors didn't read far enough into the AP story to learn about the terrorist attacks.

Nevertheless, the AP's first sentence makes clear that Israel was responding to Palestinian attacks.

Using and yahoo searches, I couldn't find even one other American newspaper that ran a headline blaming the Israelis for killing the truce.

The Boston Globe's headline was typical of headlines in other papers reporting the story.

Mideast violence threatens truce; 8 dead

So how did The N&O decide on the headline:

Airstrikes kill Mideast truce

And why?

Readers are owed explanations.

I'm sending a link to The N&O's executive editor for news, Melanie Sill. I'll invite her to respond to this post and agree to publish her response in full.

Editor Sill often says she welcomes readers' comments. Her email:

Blog Design/Domain/Hosting Auction for Hurricane Katrina Relief Ends Tonight

Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee is helping pass on word of an auction that will help Katrina victims via the American Red Cross and give bloggers a chance to upgrade their site. Bob begins:

Phin at Apothegm Designs has a rather unique fund-raising effort underway for Hurricane Katrina victims, and the fund-raising effort is targeted squarely at the blogging community, with a great payoff for both us, and the American Red Cross.

He is auctioning off a pair of custom blog designs to the two highest bidders through the end of today, Friday, September 2. You've seen examples of his work at the Llama Butchers, The Jawa Report, Naked Villainy and here among many others. Their designs are fast-loading, technically sound, and aesthetically pleasing.

If you're a blogger, read the whole post and please pass the word.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina response: We need Giuliani

The Associated Press is reporting:

President Bush will tour the hurricane devastated Gulf Coast region on Friday and has asked his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Clinton to lead a private fund-raising campaign for victims, the White House said Thursday.


Now how about getting former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani involved?

Remember his leadership following 9/11?

Those daily, sometimes twice daily, news conferences? Giuliani's care and candor built trust and cooperation with the people. He reported what had been done each day and explained why other things weren't done. If asked something he didn't know, he said he's report back and did.

Giuliani did more then explain. He called New York and the rest of us to our best. Example: his press conference the night of 9/11. I can't recall his exact words, but they were very close to these: Let us act now so that this our darkest day leads on to our finest hour.

I hope President Bush will ask Giuliani to serve as the national spokesperson on Katrina recovery efforts.

Giuliani should be given a staff to funnel information to him and ask questions of people involved in recovery operations. The President should tell other government officials to treat a call from Giuliani as if it came from him. Giuliani should have direct access to him.

With information in hand, Giuliani can inform the public each day and take questions from the press.

Problems with what I'm proposing?

Yes, at least three, but they shouldn't prevent Giuliani's appointment.

One, the bureaucratic "don't tell" and "blame someone else" Giuliani's likely to encounter.

That's going to be there anyway. Can you think of a better person than Giuliani to cut through it and get information to the public?

Two, MSM news organizations will play up every complaint about recovery efforts from officials and agencies with noses out of joint because of something Giuliani said.

Sure, but most of MSM will by playing up any complaint they get from anyone in order to paint the bleakest possible picture of recovery efforts anyway. Look how most of them have reported Iraq.

With Giuliani responding to MSM, the public will be much better served than with someone like Scott McClellan responding. And so will the President.

Three, some Republican bigs thinking of a presidential '08 run won't like Giuliani getting a lot of national attention.

The only thing to do about that is for Bush to step forward and say, "Country before party."

We need Guiliani now. He's been there and done it.

Welcome Newmark's Door visitors

I'm delighted to welcome Newmark's Door visitors.

Stay as long as you like and read some posts.

My most recent post: Why Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. needs a friend

A recent post with original reporting concerns Governor Easley, The N&O's executive editor for news Melanie Sill and readers. It's here :The editor, the governor and we, the readers.

I don't currently write on economics but will as soon as I learn to balance my checkbook.

Thanks for coming.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Why Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. needs a friend

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, an environmental lawyer who owns 3 large houses and regularly travels in private jets, said the following in a post at Arianna Huffington’s blog.

In 1998, Republican icon Pat Robertson warned that hurricanes were likely to hit communities that offended God. Perhaps it was Barbour’s memo that caused Katrina, at the last moment, to spare New Orleans and save its worst flailings for the Mississippi coast.

The least that’s wrong with Kennedy’s statement is his claim that Katrina spared New Orleans.

The most foolish part is his anointing Pat Robertson as interpreter of God’s will.

The meanest, most self-righteous, and delusional part is Kennedy’s suggestion that Mississippi has been hit by Katrina because its former Governor Haley Barbour wrote a memo opposing the Kyoto treaty, a treaty 95 U.S. Senators voted to oppose.

Does Kennedy believe that God hit India with a tsunami that killed thousands, including babies, because it refused to sign the Kyoto treaty? Even Pat Robinson hasn't said that.

Kennedy frequently directs angry, reckless statements at those who disagree with him. For example, this past April at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he accused President Bush of a federal crime: “(accepting) money from power industries in exchange for relaxed environmental regulations." ["RFK Jr. bashes Bush," Durham Herald Sun, April 21].

But Kennedy's Katrina is God smiting Kyoto opponents statement is more disturbing than anything he’s said before.

I hope Kennedy has a friend who'll help him see what he’s become; and then help him change.

Right now, Kennedy sounds exactly like the extremists who were attacking his father, uncle, and Dr. King in the months before they were assassinated

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Good things right in Raleigh

Blogger Scott Pierce at Right in Raleigh does many good things.

A recent example: A very impressive list of major achievements by our side in the War on Terrorism. Scott draws the list from an article by Christopher Hitchens and a post by the Powerline guys.

The list is most important for being first a tribute to the men and women who have been in the front lines sacrificing, dying and making success happen.

It's also something to clip and save for the next time some MSM follower starts chanting defeatist talk-talk.

Nice work, Scott.

Code Pink: It means "Bash America"

Blogger John Byrnes has an crisp, critical and informative post about the Church of MSM's Mother of Peace Cindy Sheehan and her America bashing Code Pink disciples.

John begins:

This is HOT NEWS. Demonstrating that they have absolutely no shame, decency, morals or contact with reality the Code Pink Movement is now blaming infiltrators along with conservatives and counterprotesters for recent bad press. CNS is running the full story.

Code Pink is claiming that they have been "targeted" for right wing attacks.

More follows.

I liked what John said about the Code Pink people having "absolutely no shame, decency, morals or contact with reality."

My only criticism: I thought he was a little too easy on them.

But nobody's perfect. Not even Al Sharpton or Nancy Pelosi.

Anyway, I hope you read John's post.

Katrina blogging

The best Katrina blogging (most comprehensive and up-to-date) is at Michelle Malkin. Surprised? Of course you're not.

Michelle links to one of our North Carolina bloggers, Confederate Yankee.

And at Pirate's Cove, William shares his recollections of what hurricanes did to folks in North Carolina.

Visit all three blogs.

And if you in any part of the storm area stay safe. And know we'll be watching to see how we can help.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The editor, the governor, and we, the readers.

Editors and governors are important. And so are we, the readers.

Raleigh’s News & Observer is suing North Carolina’s Governor, Mike Easley, for release of documents involving gubernatorial pardons. If the courts rule in favor of The N&O, I understand such release will be unprecedented in our state’s history.

The N&O says it wants the documents only to inform readers.

I thought about that when I read a recent column by Melanie Sill, The N&O’s executive editor for news.

Sill pounded many NC public officials for what she says is their lack of full and prompt responses when N&O staffers, including herself, call with questions, requests for interviews, and “deadlines.” Sill made Governor Easley and his staff her special target. Her column’s title: "Governor’s position? No comment."

But what Sill told readers about Easley and his staff didn't sound right. Stuff like Easley not explaining his thinking on major public policy issues. He does that often.

So I called Governor Easley’s office. Folks were very helpful. And wow, is there ever another side to the story Sill told in her column!

If you read on just a bit, you'll get that other side. It’s a copy of a “lengthy email statement” Sill received from the governor’s office.

Sill used the email to hammer the governor and his staff. But Sill never provided readers with a text copy. She just said what she wanted to say the email said.

What follows first is the conclusion of Sill’s column where she's telling readers about the email. Following that, there's an electronic copy of the email's text. After the email, I ask a few questions and invite questions from readers. I also invite Sill to respond and offer to publish in full what she says.


The conclusion of Sill's column:

While working on this column, I sought to hear Easley’s side of things. I put in a request to interview the governor or his representative on Monday afternoon, noting I was on deadline. The response? No interview with the governor or anyone else. Instead, I received a lengthy email statement from Cari Boyce in the governor’s press office saying that our reporters are free to chase down the governor at public events (as they do as often as they can) and ask him questions.

Thanks, Ms. Boyce, but that’s not what I asked.


Here’s the text of the email statement from Cari Boyce in the governor’s press office to Melanie Sill at The N&O.

Thank you for your recent call to our office about the Governor’s availability to reporters at the News & Observer. Specifically, it is my understanding that you are writing a column on “public officials who will not take or answer questions about public policy matters.” You cited, as an example, Barbara Barrett’s recent story on pardons and clemency.

In the past month, the Governor has had at least six public events in the Raleigh area where he has been available and has made public comments about a variety of issues. The News & Observer staff has been made aware of these events and they have all been open to your reporters. As you and your reporters know, the Press Office staff routinely works with reporters who would like to ask “off-topic” questions at public events and attempt to accommodate them whenever possible. For example, Matthew Eisley spoke with the Governor regarding the bonds for the N.C. Art Museum at last Thursday’s Bill of Rights ceremony. Furthermore, Ms. Barrett was also at the event and had the same opportunity to ask the Governor questions as did Mr. Eisley.

Ms. Barrett contacted the Press Office requesting an interview for her story on pardons mid-afternoon on Monday and claimed that she had a Wednesday deadline. She was given all the information that she requested about the process and the status of the cases in question. Subsequent questions also were answered after her stated deadline. Because of the ongoing negotiations with the legislature over the budget, the Governor’s schedule simply did not permit a one-on-one interview with her.

Other than Ms. Barrett, I am not aware of any recent requests by reporters at your paper for interviews with the Governor on any topic. Your assertion that the Governor does not comment on “public policy matters” is simply not accurate.

The Governor’s Press Office will continue to accommodate media requests when appropriate but it will continue to be done in balance with the other responsibilities and scheduling demands of the Governor


My questions for Editor Sill:

Why didn't you link readers to the email from the governor’s office or publish it in full?

How did withholding the email text from readers serve their interests?

Since you told readers you “sought to hear Easley’s side of things,” what do you say to readers asking why you didn't make the email available to them so they could "hear" for themselves his "side of things?"

Is your reporting on the email and Governor Easley and his staff a fair example of how N&O staffers report on public officials and their staffs?

There are many more questions readers will ask, but the four above are a start.

I'll publish in full your responses to these questions as well as your responses to related questions readers will ask.

Your prompt and full responses will serve to model what you're demanding our state’s public officials do.

What the editor didn't tell Raleigh N&O print readers

Melanie Sill, executive editor for news at Raleigh's News & Observer, is at it again.

Most of Sill's column in yesterday's N&O was taken up with a highly select and sanitized version of the upset and controversy caused by her series of self-contradictory statements made in response to readers who complained about The N&O's delay in reporting on the Air America loan scandal.

If you missed Sill's column, it's here. If you're new to the story and want background go here and here at this blog. Also, at Sill’s blog go here and here and here.

Before reading her column, it's likely almost all Sill’s print readers knew nothing of Sill's statements these past weeks. Or the questions and comments they provoked. Or how Sill responded to them.

After reading her column, print readers knew what Sill told them but not what she left out.

For example, Sill didn’t tell them that editors of major daily newspapers disputed what she said regarding not being able to report on the AA loan scandal story that has already been reported in other newspapers.

Sill didn’t tell readers she has made a series of statements. Look back at her column. If you knew nothing else about the matter but what Sill was telling you, wouldn’t you conclude she had made just one statement?

Sill offers readers not a single example of what she calls “good questions” or of her responses, in the few cases where made a response.

Didn’t Sill’s print readers deserve at least one representative example of the questions and comments most of her internet readers were offering?

An example such as this on a post thread at Sill's blog:

Reader comment: "I must be lacking in imagination, but I cannot see how these two statements could be characterized as anything other than falsehoods:

'We've checked our news services in recent days and do not find this story'

'(I)n checking our many news services I did not find a story available to The N&O for publication.'

If you could explain to your readers how these were truthful, honest, and accurate statements, I am sure they would be glad to hear it."

Editor Sill’s response: "Can you say more about which part seems puzzling -- how the news service queues work?"

Then there's the matter of Sill casting herself as a victim and telling her print readers about “some twisting of my words.”

Sill doesn't tell print readers she was twice invited to make a response at this blog to what so many of us were asking, commenting, and blogging. I offered to publish in full her response.

Sill never acknowledged my offers, ones I’m sure most other bloggers covering this story would make to her, if they have not done so already.

But if Sill told her print readers about offers to print in full her response to say, this post in which the editors disputed what she said, it would have been tough to convince print readers her words were being twisted, wouldn't it?

More on Sill’s print column in a day or two.

Look for a related post this evening: The Editor, The Governor, and We, The Readers.

Have a good day.