Saturday, May 20, 2006

For Plamegate: The best blog

Tom Mcquire at JustOneMinute is the go to guy for all thinks having to do with Wilson/Plame, Prosecutor Fitzgerald, Scoter Libby and Karl Rove.

He's followed every twist and turn of the "saga." He reminds me of a dedicated scientist who doesn't let the smallest piece of datum escape his notice.

If you want to follow Plamegate, JustOneMinute is the place to go.

BTY - Tom covers some other subjects.

Does Mcquire have a sense of humor? Yes, it's not mean and never cheap, but boy can he needle.

Don't forget: JustOneMinute.

Fifteen years later, Tom Friedman gets it

In the early 1990s we discovered something called the Internet that would have as profound an effect as the printing press.

We began using the net to shop for low air fares. Soon, we were sending emails asking business associates on the other side of the world how many widgets they could ship to Baku by tomorrow. Scientists began reading important articles printed in obscure foreign language journals that had an English abstracts attached with instructions on how to translate the article into English.

So I think you’ll smile when I tell you New York Times columnist Tom Friedman announced today his discovery of the Internet. What’s more he used a whole column to share the news with his devoted Times’ readers. Here’s some it:

I was on my way from downtown Budapest to the airport the other day when my driver, Jozsef Bako, mentioned that if I had any friends who were planning to come to Hungary, they should just contact him through his Web site:

He explained that he could show people online all the different cars he has to offer and they could choose what they wanted.

"How much business do you get online?" I asked him. "About 20 to 25 percent," the communist-era-engineer-turned-limo-proprietor said. […]

Jozsef's online Hungarian limo company is one of many new business models I've come across lately that are clearly expanding the global economy in ways that are not visible to the naked eye. […]

I was recently interviewing Ramalinga Raju, chairman of India's Satyam Computer Services. […]

A short time later I was interviewing Katie Jacobs Stanton, a senior product manager at Google, and Krishna Bharat, founder of Google's India lab. […]

Last story. I'm in gray Newark, N.J., speaking to local businessmen. I meet Andy Astor … […]
No, Tom. Another “first person” tale isn’t necessary. We get your point.

Questions to you, Tom:

Why did it take you so long to discover the obvious?

Why do you think Times’ readers need to be told what almost all intelligent American’s already know?

And why do you think people pay extra money to Times Select in order to get columns like yours?

Friedman's entire discover column is here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Churchill Series - May 19, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

On May 10,1940, Churchill became Prime Minister. The news of his appointment by the King was broadcast to the nation by his predecessor, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

On May 13, Churchill spoke in the House of Commons and delivered his now immortal "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech. But the nation only read about the speech.

In the 1940s there was no live broadcasts of parliament’s proceedings. Churchill's May 13 speech, like a number of other speeches he delivered in Commons, was recorded later for rebroadcast and posterity.

Churchill's first speech to the nation as Prime Minister did not occur until Sunday evening, May 19.

On that night Britain's situation was even more desperate than it had been on May 10. The battle in France was not going well. The Germans were simultaneously driving toward the Marne and Paris and pushing the Allies back toward the Channel Coast. It looked very possible that the Germans would cut the Allies defensive line in two, effectively trapping the Allies left flank against the coast.

I speak to you for the first time as Prime Minister in a solemn hour for the life of our country, of our empire, of our allies, and, above all, of the cause of Freedom.

A tremendous battle is raging in France and Flanders. The Germans, by a remarkable combination of air bombing and heavily armored tanks, have broken through the French defenses north of the Maginot Line, and strong columns of their armored vehicles are ravaging the open country, which for the first day or two was without defenders.

They have penetrated deeply and spread alarm and confusion in their track. Behind them there are now appearing infantry in lorries, and behind them, again, the large masses are moving forward. [...]

Our task is not only to win the battle - but to win the war. After this battle in France abates its force, there will come the battle for our Island -- for all that Britain is, and all the Britain means. That will be the struggle.

In that supreme emergency we shall not hesitate to take every step, even the most drastic, to call forth from our people the last ounce and the last inch of effort of which they are capable. The interests of property, the hours of labor, are nothing compared with the struggle of life and honor, for right and freedom, to which we have vowed ourselves. [...]

Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: "Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be."
Churchill's biographer, Martin Gilbert, later wrote:
Churchill's first broadcast as Prime Minister caught the imagination of the millions. It was his first attempt as Prime Minister to point the way through setbacks and disasters to the ultimate, essential victory.

Talking with JinC regaulars - 4 - 19 - 06

(One of a series of posts in the original web log tradition: notes and "thinking out loud." These posts will be most easily understood by regular visitors here, and are written with them in mind. But others are welcome.)


You most likely know that at McClatchy's Raleigh News & Observer's The Editor's Blog The N&O's exec editor for news Melanie Sill has threatened to ban me.

Sill says in the 14th comment of the Convergence debate:

I'll ask you again to respect the guidelines, and if you don't accept them, you will be the first person I've had to ban.
As you may know, banning a person from commenting at a blog is an extremely series action usually done in response to a person physically threatening another, using obscene language, using comments to promote commercial activity, especially pornography.

I've done none of that. I my response to Sill I asked her to provide specifics as to why she would ban me. You can find my response a little further down the Convergence debate thread from Sill's comment (number 14). Note I end my comment with: Specifics, Melanie, specifics. That request did generate any specifics from Melanie. Instead she replied as follows

Being critical is fine. I've no desire to ban you or anyone else. All I ask is that you respect and follow these really broad guidelines on length and staying on point to the topic of the post. I think that if you read through comments in this post and others you see that I try to address questions as time permits. Thanks.
Melanie has never shown me where a comment was off point. Many of my comments are short and others are shorter than ones other commentators leave.

I've not gotten into a back and forth about it all with Melanie at The Editor's Blog but I think she relishes questions from readers that contain mistakes or which she can talk around.

I often ask here questions such as: "Why in a 2000 word article about the affects of the DLC on Duke's reputation all the Duke students and alums quoted were very critical of the university?"

When Melanie says things that don't fit with the facts I put the facts out there and ask her way the discrepancy.

Tomorrow in another Talking with Regulars post I'll give you specific examples of what I mean.

Also, I've had some experience with Judge Ron Stephens and a few of the defense attorneys. I've decided to share some impressions with you and then maybe turn them into posts.

More soon. Thanks for visiting.


Help when the GOP needs it most

Yesterday I posted on the Rasmussen’s latest poll results which included:

Before the President's speech, Rasmussen Reports found that Democrats had a 10-point advantage on the Generic Congressional Ballot. Following the speech, the Democrats lead grew to 15 points, 48% to 33%. While the Generic Congressional Ballot is not particularly valuable in projecting House elections, it is a useful measure of the national mood and that mood is decidedly turning against the GOP at the moment.
It looked pretty bad for Republicans. How were they going to dig themselves out of that hole?

Well, this morning came the sort of miracle Republicans must have prayed for all last night.

From the Washington Times:
Reid calls language proposal racist
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called a proposal to make English the official language "racist" on the Senate floor yesterday.

"This amendment is racist. I think it's directed basically to people who speak Spanish," the Democrat said during the already tense debate over immigration reform.

Moments later, the Senate approved the measure on a 63-34 vote. Virtually all Republicans were joined by 11 Democrats to approve the largely symbolic amendment.

Immediately following that vote, the Senate approved a second amendment, declaring on a 58-39 vote that English is the "common and unifying language."

Such proposals enjoy overwhelming support among American voters.

A poll by Zogby International earlier this year found that 84 percent of Americans say English should be the official language of government operations. The same poll found that 77 percent of Hispanics agree.[…]
Who would have believed that after all the nasty remarks Reid’s been making about Republicans, he’d come to their aid just as it looked like they would do very badly in the ’06 congressionals?

Now if Sens. Kennedy and Schumer, Rep. Pelosi, Chairman Dean , and former VP Gore pitch in and do their part, it could be a very good November for the GOP after all.

We’ll have to see.

Meanwhile, if you're a Republican, remember what your parents taught you: thank people who help you.

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. A short, sincere “thank you” note will do.

The Washington Times article is here.

Top notch Duke lacrosse blogger returns

Chris Lawrence at Signifying Nothing is back from vacation and posting again on the Duke lacrosse case.

Pre-vacation, Chris’ DLC posts linked to the latest news and contained sharp, concise commentary of the kind that scares MSM types who think it’s their jobs to “explain things” to the public by summarizing press statements they pick up at news conferences.

Now tanned, rested and ready to go, Chris just posted here. Be sure to read the comment thread.

I hope you bookmark Chris.

And don’t forget to follow the story each day in The Raleigh News & Observer and The Durham Herald Sun.

If you haven’t been reading both papers, it’s worth it just to see how differently their reporting the story.

And I’ll bet after 3 or 4 days you won’t have any trouble deciding which paper deserves to be called “the prosecutors friend.”

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Churchill Series – May 18, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Horse racing is a popular sport in both Britain and America. But it has a social status and acceptance over there that’s it’s never acquired here.

Queen Elizabeth breeds and races horses as did the late Queen Mother. Race week at Ascot is a time when politics is put aside and government leaders spend days at the track and the social events surrounding race week. They often have their own horses in some of the races.

We wouldn’t expect President Bush to spend a week at Churchill Downs looking after his best known horse, Tax Cut III, a heavy Derby favorite. And we would think it very strange to read in a Bob Novak column that in the paddock just before the Derby, Senator Bill Frist suddenly grabbed Representative Nancy Pelosi’s arm and said, “Careful, Nancy. That will be so hard to get off your shoe.”

Now what does all this have to do with Churchill?

Well, historian Piers Brandon tells us:

In the summer of 1949, Churchill embarked on a new venture - he bought a racehorse. On the advice of Christopher Soames [his son-in-law who’d married his youngest daughter Mary in 1947], he purchased a grey three-year-old colt, Colonist II. It was to be the first of several thoroughbreds in his small stud.

They were registered in Lord Randolph's colours - pink with chocolate sleeves and cap. (These have been adopted as the colours of Churchill College.) Churchill was made a member of the Jockey Club in 1950, and greatly relished the distinction.
Colonist was a small, gutsy horse who surprised the experts by winning many important stakes races. He became a great favorite with the British public.

Churchill College, a part of Cambridge University, was founded as Britain’s national memorial to Churchill. It houses his papers.

Don’t you think Churchill, with his puckish sense of humor, would relished the idea of the great and ancient Cambridge University having to give the nod to its newest college bearing his racing colors?

Rasmussen poll results

Gallup used to be the polling organization I most respected. Now it’s Rasmussen Reports. Here are some its latest findings released today, May 18:

The reviews are starting to come in for the President's Monday Night Address to the nation and they're not what the White House was hoping to see. Just 39% of voters agree with the President's approach on the immigration issue while an equal number are opposed. To fully comprehend how bad that number is, remember that most Presidential addresses produce a bounce adding a few extra points of temporary support for the White House position. Just 35% believe the President's approach will reduce illegal immigration.

But the bad reviews don't stop there.

Before the President's speech, Rasmussen Reports found that Democrats had a 10-point advantage on the Generic Congressional Ballot. Following the speech, the Democrats lead grew to 15 points, 48% to 33%. While the Generic Congressional Ballot is not particularly valuable in projecting House elections, it is a useful measure of the national mood and that mood is decidedly turning against the GOP at the moment.

The same trend can be found on the President's Job Approval Ratings.

At Rasmussen Reports, we measure this rating every night and report the results on a three-day rolling average. Data released today (Thursday) is the first where most of the interviews were conducted after the Monday night address. The result, President Bush's Job Approval fell to the lowest level ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports--36%. Just 15% Strongly Approve, that's also the lowest on record. One telling detail is that just 65% of Republicans Approve of the job Mr. Bush is doing.

On the immigration issue itself, we asked survey participants to choose between two immigration bills. "One would improve control of the borders but do nothing about the status of working immigrants who are here illegally. The other would legalize the status of working immigrants who are here illegally but would do nothing to improve control of the border."

By a 63% to 19% margin, voters prefer the bill that controls the borders but does nothing about the status of illegal aliens. Voters overwhelming believe that strict employer penalties are the best way to accomplish this goal. […]
I’m sorry to see these numbers. The idea of this current group of congressional Democrats becoming more powerful after the ’06 election troubles me.

I don’t have more to say now. I just wanted to put these results out there.

Also, I wanted to call Rasmussen Reports to you attention in case you’re not familiar with the organization.

Rasmussen has a superb track record, no doubt at least in part because they don’t "adjust" their findings quite as much as say, The New York Times/CBS polling service does.

Duke lacrosse news: One paper reports; another is silent

News in the Duke lacrosse case. The Durham Herald Sun reports today:

Lawyers question dancer's plea deal in '02
Defense lawyers suggested Wednesday that the District Attorney's Office may have shown favoritism as early as 2002 to an exotic dancer who claimed she was gang raped during a Duke University lacrosse party in March.

In a written motion filed in Durham County Superior Court, attorneys for indicted rape suspect Reade Seligmann asked why the dancer received "such a favorable plea bargain" for criminal charges arising out of a drunken, stolen-car, high-speed police chase in June 2002.

Court records show that even though the woman was charged with four felonies and numerous other traffic violations, the offenses were plea-bargained down to misdemeanors and she received only probation.

But District Attorney Mike Nifong, who is handling the rape case, and who was an assistant prosecutor in 2002, said Wednesday he had nothing to do with the plea deal four years ago. He said he didn't know which local prosecutor negotiated it.[…]

Meanwhile, a Durham County Sheriff's Office report -- reviewed four years ago by Sgt. T.H. McCrae and recently obtained by The Herald-Sun -- provides details of the 2002 car chase involving the alleged rape victim.

The incident began at a topless dance club while the woman was performing for a taxi driver, McCrae wrote.

"As she was feeling him up and putting her hands in his pockets she removed the keys to his taxi cab, without him knowing," the officer said. "He [the cabbie] told her he would drive her home but needed to go to the restroom first. While in the restroom he was advised that she was driving off in his taxi cab."

McCrae said he chased the woman at speeds up to 70 mph in a 55-mph zone until she finally stopped.

"As I began to approach the vehicle she put it in drive and drove towards me," McCrae added. "I jumped out of the way to the right and she missed me. The suspect then struck the right rear quarter of my patrol vehicle."

Another chase ensued, but the woman finally was apprehended after having a flat tire, according to McCrae.

The officer said she registered a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.19 on a portable sensing device -- more than double North Carolina's 0.08 legal threshold for impairment.

And while being questioned, the dancer "passed out and was unresponsive," McCrae said. […]

In connection with the 2002 incident, the woman was charged with felonious assault with a deadly weapon [the stolen taxi] on a government officer, felonious larceny and felonious possession of a stolen vehicle, felonious speeding to elude arrest, driving while impaired, driving with a revoked license, driving while left of center, ignoring an officer's blue lights and siren, reckless driving, driving the wrong way on a dual-lane highway, having an open alcoholic beverage container in the car, two counts of damaging personal property and resisting a public officer.
There’s much more to the story including motions by defense attorney’s and statements by DA Mike Nifong.

The Raleigh News & Observer failed to report any of Wednesday’s court proceedings or the attorneys’ and Nifong’s statements.

But The N&O has granted PR type interviews to the accuser and members of her family, after offering them all anonymity.

The N&O’s failure to report on Wednesday’s events will no doubt be cited as one more example of The N&O’s biased reporting favoring the accuser.

Many at the Durham County courthouse have taken to callling N&O reporters “the Raleigh DAs.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Churchill Series - May 17, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In early September, 1940 Britain’s situation was desperate. The air battle then raging in the skies over southern England had pushed RAF Fighter Command close to a break point. Invasions fears were at their height. Intelligence reports were beginning to warn of an impending German bomber assault on civilian population centers. Food stocks and war supplies were running low in the island nation as Nazi U-boats dominated the Battle of the Atlantic.

On Sept. 13 Churchill dictated a minute to the War Secretary, Anthony Eden. Excerpts:

If, owing to lack of equipment and other facilities, it is necessary to limit the numbers of the active Home Guard, would it not be possible to recruit a Home Guard Reserve, members of which would, for the time being, be provided with no weapons and no uniform other than arm bands?

Their only duties would be to attend such courses of instruction as could be organized locally in the use of simple weapons like the “Molotov cocktail.” And to report for orders in the event of invasion.

Unless some such step is taken, those who are refused enlistment will be bewildered and disappointed, and one of the primary objects of the Home Guard, which was to provide for the people as a whole an opportunity of helping to defend their homes, will be lost.

I am anxious to avoid the disappointment and frustration which the stoppage of recruiting for the Home Guard is likely to cause to many people.

Please let me know what you think of this proposal.
The minute makes clear two things:

1) Churchill had no doubt the British people were determined to fight off an invasion with whatever weapons were at hand, even homemade ones.

2) The people needed a government that would lead them in that effort.

And that Churchill did.

In 1940 the British people and their Prime Minister were a perfect match.
Winston S. Churchill, Their Finest Hour. (pgs. 658-659)

This news could be good news

ABC News headlines:

FBI Acknowledges: Journalists' Phone Records are Fair Game
The story begins:
The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters' phone records in leak investigations.

"It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration," said a senior federal official.

The acknowledgement followed our blotter item that ABC News reporters had been warned by a federal source that the government knew who we were calling.

The official said our blotter item was wrong to suggest that ABC News phone calls were being "tracked." [...]
Wow! It sounds like the FBI may be acting to find out who leaks national security secrets to MSM news organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Isn't that going to make it harder for such outfits to take national security secrets and turn them into Pulitzer Prize winning stories that help prop up the newspaper companies' sagging stock prices?

Won't what the FBI is doing make it harder for al-Qaeda to learn what the government's doing to defend us?

What ABC News says the FBI is doing sounds a lot like what it did during WW II.

I'm sure most MSM news organizations are worried the next thing the FBI will do is try to catch journalists who break into our private records. For example, the way the NY Times did when it illegally got into the sealed adoption records of the children of then Appellate Court Judge John Roberts and his wife, Joan.

Folks, if that's what the FBI is doing, I have a question: how can I help?

I hope there's a plan to put reporters who disclose national security secrets in jail? And their editor and publishers too.

How do we punish news organizations that snoop illegally in citizens private affairs?

What are your ideas?

MSM journalists comments are especially welcome.

Talking with JinC regaulars - 4 - 17 - 06

(One of a series of posts in the original web log tradition: notes and "thinking out loud." These posts will be most easily understood by regular visitors here, and are written with them in mind. But others are welcome.)

First, thanks to those of you who have commented here and at The McClatchy Company's The Editor's Blog where Raleigh News & Observer exec. news editor Melanie Sill blogs.

If you haven't visited The Editor's Blog recently, I hope you do soon. There's a lot of current conversatin at this post, Convergence debate.

A number of people, including some of you, have made excellent comments that speak to what journalism's should to be, and how far short of that The N&O falls.

I also appreciate what some of you have said there and here about JinC and my comments at The Editor's Blog.

I haven't responded to Sill's threat this morning to ban me outright from the blog.

I wanted first to reflect on the accusations Sill directed at me, even though Sill's made them all before.

Having done that, I still don't understand why Sill singled me out from among all the people who have been very critical of The N&O's kind of journalism, and its many factual errors and omissions of news that goes against The N&O's liberal/leftist slant.

Mind you, I'm not saying Sill should target and ban those other people along with me.
I don't want that to happen. It would be terrible if Sill and McClatchy did that.

What I'm asking is why Sill has singled me out. She hasn't cited even a couple of specific questions I've asked that she thinks justify banning me.

Sill accuses and presumes I'm guilty and need to be banned.

There's no substance to her accusatings or presumption that I'm guilty of offenses that deserve banishment.

How did The McClatchy Company get to where Sill has it?

How does Sill's banishment threat fit with what McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt tells us is McClatchy's strong support for transparency and the "new journalism?"

Later tonight I plan to leave a brief response on the Convergence debate post thread at The Editor's Blog. Among other things, I'll ask Sill to be much more specific.

Tomorrow I'll post another Talking with Regulars (TwR) post.

On other matters - The Churchill/Sandhurst op-ed submission is about ready.

After that I plan a "Go, Tony, go" post in salute to new White House press secretary Tony Snow.

Thanks for continuing to visit and comment.


Duke lacrosse: A speedy trial? A law professor responds.

Yesterday blogger Betsy Newmark posted on the matter of a speedy trial here in North Carolina for the defendants in the Duke lacrosse case. Some questions had been raised regarding how state laws might affect the timing of a trial or trials.

I posted in response and passed part of Betsy’s post on to UNC Law Professor Eric Muller. I asked him if he would comment. Muller blogs at Is That Legal?

Muller's responded. Here’s his email:

The federal Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant a speedy trial in any criminal prosecution, and that right applies in state prosecutions just as in federal prosecutions.

However, that provision has been interpreted not to impose particularly rigorous requirements on court systems. It is common to find appellate cases in which several years elapsed between indictment and trial, and where the appellate court nonetheless finds no violation of the defendant's right to a speedy trial.

Betsy Newmark's post, to which you link, suggests that a defendant has a right to "demand" a speedy trial, by which I guess she means a trial now, dammit! I know of no state or federal law or constitutional provision that allows a defendant to demand to be tried at any particular moment.
Thanks go to Muller for his prompt and clarifying response.

Here's a link to the wording of the Sixth Amendment, which includes the right to a speedy trial.

I'll post more about a possible trial(s)and some other Duke lacrosse matters tonight.

In the meantime, I hope you visit Is That Legal.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Churchill Series - May 16, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Churchill loved his bath. It was a rare day when he didn't take at least one.

Then came the day in post-war Britain when Churchill, leading the opposition in the House of Commons heard the government's Minister of Fuel and Power, Hugh Gaitskell, later Attlee's successor as leader of the Labour Party, suggest to the House that the government encourage people to take fewer baths as an energy saving measure. Gaitskell told the House:

"Personally, I have never had a great many baths myself, and I can assure those who are in the habit of having a great many that it does not make a great difference to their health if they have less."
Well, you can guess how Churchill took that. Here's his response to Gaitskell
"When Ministers of the Crown speak like this on behalf of HM Government, the Prime Minister and his friends have no need to wonder why they are getting increasingly into bad odour.

"I have even asked myself, when meditating upon these points, whether you, Mr. Speaker, would admit the word 'lousy' as a Parliamentary expression in referring to the Administration, provided, of course, it was not intended in a contemptuous sense but purely as one of factual narration."
If you'll forgive a pun, the House showered Gaitskell with laughter.
The quotes and background are found at The Churchill Centre's Speeches and Quotes page.

McClatchy N&O editor offers "off-line" talk. I say, "No."

Regular visitors here know The McClatchy Company's Raleigh News & Observer's Senior Vice President and Executive Editor, Melanie Sill, has recently made a series of threats to delete comments I've made at a blog McClatchy sponsors called The Editors Blog.

Sill has made such threats for months but they intensified and became more frequent following my questions and criticisms concerning what many people see as The N&O's biased and inflammatory reporting of the Duke lacrosse case.

For recent examples of what I'm talking about read some of Sill's blog posts and read down the comment threads here, here, here, and here.

You'll see on the comment threads that I've asked many questions Sill hasn't answered. Here's just one example:

Why did The N&O, after refusing to publish any of the Danish cartoons, go ahead and publish the "vigilante poster" with face-photos of 40 Duke lacrosse players and "WANTED" stamped on it, despite warnings that publishing the poster would only stir passions and make it more likely unstable individuals and hate groups would target the lacrosse players?
Today Sill made another "delete" threat to which I responded.

A few hours later I received from Sill the email below. After completing this post, I plan to comment at The Editor's Blog. I'm going to ask Sill to cite specific examples of the unsubstantiated claims she makes concerning my comments.

I also plan to tell Sill there's no reason correspondence between her and myself should be anywhere but where blog readers can see it.

McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt calls such readers "the audience." Why cut the "audience" out of an ongoing correspondence which may lead to one member of the "audience" being barred from commenting? Cutting the rest of the "audience" out of that conversation destroys the transparency Pruitt says McClatchy wants at its blogs.

Now you most likely want to get on and read Sill's email, so I'll end.

More tomorrow.

And don't forget to visit The Editor's Blog.

Sill's email:


I'm writing directly to you to ask your help in working with me so that
you can continue to comment on my blog in a way that's workable on both
sides. I'd ask that you not post this exchange publicly -- I'm sending
this note out of respect and a desire to work this out.

Here's what I'd ask:

*That you try to address the issues in the posts and not cross-post
the same comments on multiple threads. If you don't see a post on
something you're interested in, email me and I'll see if I have
something to say so that you can comment.
* That you respect my request that your comments be shorter, in
* That you understand that I have only part of each day for the blog,
and that I can respond briefly to some specific questions but I can't
get into a protracted dissection of your arguments. I have answered
your questions, but this seems to result in a barrage of new questions
or a picking apart of my responses in some cases to misrepresent me. I
will pledge to try to address your questions as often as possible.

All blogs have guidelines and owners. I'd like to have you as a
continued commenter. These are my guidelines. Let me know what you

Melanie Sill
Executive editor and senior vice president
The News & Observer
P.O. Box 191 Raleigh, NC 27601

A spousal comment that may make you smile

About 7 tonight, my wife and I sat down to dinner.

Something got us to talking about mistakes.

That prompted me to say:

You know, Angel, I've said and done lots of dumb things over the years.

I'll bet you can remember a lot of them.
Her hand shot up and formed a "STOP" sign:
Please, John, I have to be in bed by 10

Update on Raleigh News & Observer editors

A quick update with more tonight.

Nothing back so far from N&O public editor Ted Vaden on why Tne N&O is not pursuing the story of the one positive DNA match in the Duke lacrosse case.

I'll contact him again tomorrow.

Also, if you go to N&O exec news editor Melanie Sill blog you'll see she's once again threatening to delete my comments.

Why not make a visit to McClatchy's Editor's Blog where Sill blogs.

Talk to you tonight.


A speedy trial for Duke lax players? Let's ask a law professor.

Betsy Newmark’s blog has become the “must visit daily” place for anyone seeking updates and informed commentary on the Duke lacrosse case.

Today, in one of two excellent Duke lax case posts (here and here) Betsy says:

Amazingly, I'm learning that the laws of my state [North Carolina] do not call for a speedy trial and that the defendant can't petition for a speedy trial (as I heard on cable TV last night).

I guess I just assumed that all states would follow the federal model in writing their own constitution. Or that the right to a speedy trial had been incorporated to apply to the states (It's a N.C. case which incorporated that right, I believe).

If any of my readers are N.C. lawyers, I'd love to know if this is true and what the history of that is. How many other states don't have a speedy trial provision? How many deny the defendant the right to petition for a speedy trial? Are they mostly southern states?
I’m not a lawyer.

But UNC School of Law Professor Eric Muller is. He blogs at Is That Legal?

Here’s one of his posts from May 12 ---
Duke Lacrosse Case

Can you say "prosecutor looking desperately for a cooperating witness?"

I knew you could

I'll bet you're all saying, "John, get a move on and email Muller. Ask him to respond to Betsy's questions or suggest someone who can. We're all interested."

OK, folks. Here's the email I'm sending Muller.


Dear Eric,

The link which follows is to a post that contains part of another blogger's post asking about the right to a speedy trial in NC, with particular reference to the three Duke lacrosse players

The blogger, Betsy Newmark, is a North Carolinian, a high school history teacher, and suberb blogger.

I hope you'll respond. I'll post in full what you say.

Betsy's email is:

Thank you.



Monday, May 15, 2006

The Churchill Series - May 15, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In June, 1950, the seventy-six year old Winston Churchill was leader of the opposition Conservative Party.

On June 7 a debate began in the Commons that lasted into the early morning of the 8th. In all, it was twenty-one hours in length. Churchill was there for all of it.

Harold Macmillan, Churchill's House colleague, friend and a future Prime Minister, recorded in his diary:

“Conscious that many people feel that he is too old to form a Government and that this will probably be used as a cry against him at the election, he has used these days to give a demonstration of energy and vitality.

He has voted in every division, made a series of brilliant little speeches; shown all his qualities of humour and sarcasm; and crowned all by a remarkable breakfast (at 7.30 a.m.) of eggs, bacon, sausages and coffee, followed by a large whisky and soda and a huge cigar. This latter feat commanded general admiration."
At the next election, Churchill was returned to Downing Street where we can be sure he enjoyed many full English breakfasts, whiskies and cigars.
Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life. (pgs. 894-895)

McClatchy N&O editor dismisses readers' questions, criticisms. I respond

Today at McClatchy's The Editor's Blog, Raleigh N & O exec news editor Melanie Sill finally said something in response to reader criticisms and questions that have been piling up for weeks.

As is her customary practice, Sill picked from a large group of questions and comments, a few which contained either factual errors or unsupportable assertions. To them she responded.

She also dismissed all of the fact-based questions and reasoned criticisms as "fan mail."

That prompted me to send her the following comment. Tomorrow I'll add hyperlinks.

05/15/06 at 15:56
Dear Melanie,

Almost all reader comments made here at The Editor’s Blog the past several weeks have been sharply critical of The N&O’s biased and inflammatory coverage of the Duke lacrosse case.

You dismiss those comments as “fan mail” and refuse to answer fair, fact-based questions such as:

Why, after telling readers it wouldn’t publish any of the Danish cartoons because of “sensitivity," did The N&O publish the "vigilante poster" with face-photos of 40 Duke lacrosse players and "WANTED" stamped on it?

Is there anyone at The N&O who didn't know publishing the poster would stir passions and make it more likely that unstable individuals and hate groups would target the lacrosse players?

How do you justify publishing the "vigilante poster" and not publishing the Danish cartoons?

Why, in a 2000 word, front page Apr. 9 story concerning Duke's reputation, did you quote only Duke students or alums highly critical of the university?

You reported Duke Provost Peter Lange had written a letter responding to Professor Houston Baker’s “outspoken” letter.

In truth, Lange told Baker that his letter was a “form of prejudice.”

Why didn’t The N&O report what Lange had actually called Baker’s letter, instead of editorializing with “outspoken?”

On Apr. 5, a particularly tense day, North Carolina Central University Chancellor James Ammons released a public statement calling on the community to remain calm and let justice take its course. The Durham Herald Sun published Ammons’ statement in full.

The N&O didn’t report word one about Ammons’ statement. Why not?

You later told readers The N&O had “quoted Ammons.” Why did you say that?

Many people asking you questions believe The N&O’s reporting has helped make a terrible situation even worse, including more dangerous.

You should answer their questions.

What is the point of The McClatchy Company sponsoring your blog if you’re not going to answer direct, fact-based reader questions?



Duke lacrosse and bathroom safety

Today’s indictment of Duke Men’s lacrosse captain David Evans adds to the story the accuser and DA Mike Nifong want us to believe.

We should believe that:

On the night of March 13/14 at a party at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. in Durham, David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann dragged the resisting accuser into the bathroom where they each brutally raped, sodomized and choked here as she struggled for her life.
That's what we're all supposed to believe.

Mind you, I’m not saying anyone should believe any of that.

I just want us to agree on what a person must believe in order to agree with what the accuser and Nifong are saying.

I’m doing that because I want to ask the millions who believe the accuser and Nifong some questions.

The rest of you are, of course, welcome to read along and decide how you’d answer those questions.

Now questions for accuser/Nifong believers:

Have you and someone else ever helped a cooperative elderly or very ill person into a bathroom to shower?

Did you have to be extremely careful and move very slowly lest you accidentally injure the person or yourselves by hitting one of the many hard, angular, and large objects found in a bathroom?

Did you carefully plan and coordinate with the ill or elderly person and your helper every move you all made in order to avoid serious injury to any of you?

And for all the planning and cooperation, you knew the smallest slip or bump could result in a serious injury, didn’t you?

Did you think about getting a third person to help?

If you did, I'm betting you rejected that idea because you knew a third person would only make things too crowded and hard for everyone to maneuver safely around the shower/tub, toilet, sink, medicine cabinet and towel rack.

Am I right?

Have you ever tried to help an elderly or ill person who resisted a bathroom shower, say an Alzheimer patient with paranoid ideation?

Did you try to shower the person anyway, or did you immediately stop because you knew going ahead would be physically dangerous to the person and yourself?

Did you think instead of a bedroom where you could give the person a sponge bath?

That would make a lot more sense, wouldn’t it?

The papers report the house at 610 North Buchanan Blvd. has three bedrooms.

One last question: Will you tell us why you believe what the accuser and DA Nifong are saying?

Raleigh N&O ignores Duke DNA link to boyfriend

Friday, May 12, defense attorneys for Duke lacrosse players held a press conference to discuss results of a 2nd round of DNA testing.

The Associated Press' report of the conference included

Attorney Joseph Cheshire, who represents a team captain who has not been charged, said the tests showed genetic material from a "single male source" was found on a vaginal swab taken from the accuser, but that material did not match any of the players.

"In other words, it appears this woman had sex with a male," said Cheshire, who spoke at a news conference with other defense attorneys in the case. "It also appears with certainty it wasn't a Duke lacrosse player."
Cheshire said the male was named in the report and was "known to the Durham police." He declined to name him but the next day ABC News identified him as the accuser’s boyfriend. ("Duke Lacrosse DNA:
Mystery Man Revealed"

So how did the Raleigh News & Observer, which has come under heavy reader criticism for its inflammatory and biased reporting of the case, report these latest and very important developments?

Here are The N&O headlines for its Saturday, May 13, story:
No firm link in test 2 of DNA

One player could not be fully ruled out as a suspect, but results fall short of certain proof, defense attorneys say
"No firm link" and one player couldn't "be fully ruled out as a suspect."

What about the "vaginal swab" and "the single male source?"

The N&O's story didn't mention them until the 5th and 6th paragraphs. All other news organizations whose stories I read reported them in the first two paragraphs.

What has The N&O told readers since Saturday about the positive match and the man "known to the Durham police?"


The N&O reported nothing Sunday or today about anything having to do with "vaginal swabs" or the male.

Has he been interviewed by the police, DA Nifong, or The N&O?

If he has, can The N&O tell readers what he said?

If he hasn't, why hasn't The N&O told readers why not?

Is he the male who drove the accuser to the party?

Has the accuser been asked any questions relating to the latest DNA findings?

I'm sure, folks, you all can think of many other questions The N&O should be reporting on.

Why is The N&O silent about a major development in the case?

The N&O, after all, is the newspaper that's granted PR type interviews to the anonymous accuser and some of her family members, also granting them anonymity.

The N&O has published the infamous "vigilante poster" and searched courthouse records in Durham and Orange counties looking for charges against any person whose name appeared on a Duke Men's lacrosse roster going as far back as 1999.

The N&O's exec news editor, Melanie Sill, recently told readers:
The N&O has pushed hard on the police investigation involving Duke's lacrosse team.
The N&O has certainly "pushed hard" where the lacrosse players are concerned, which is one reason some folks at the Durham courthouse refer to The N&O's reporters as "the Raleigh DAs."

But concerning the DNA vaginal match to the accuser's boyfriend, The N&O is now suddenly very soft.

Readers are owed an explanation.

I'm emailing this post to The N&O's public editor, Ted Vaden. I'll let you know what I hear back.

If you'd like to contact Vaden yourself, his phone number is: 919 836 5700.

His email:

Sunday, May 14, 2006

LA Times gets 2nd Duke DNA story wrong.

At there's a May 14 Los Angeles Times Print Edition: A Section story headlined:

No Match in 2nd Duke DNA Test, Defense Says
But don't believe that. The Times' headline is flat out false.

Defense attorneys for Duke lacrosse players have made clear since Friday, Apr. 12, that the 2nd round of Duke DNA testing did yield a positive DNA match.

This from an Associated Press account of the attorneys' Friday news conference:
Attorney Joseph Cheshire, who represents a team captain who has not been charged, said the tests showed genetic material from a "single male source" was found on a vaginal swab taken from the accuser, but that material did not match any of the players.[...]

The "single male source" who matched the genetic material found on the vaginal swab taken from the victim is named in the report on the second round of DNA tests, which were done at a private lab. Cheshire said the man "is known to the Durham police department" but he declined to give the man's name
On Saturday, May 13, ABC News headlined:
Duke Lacrosse DNA: Mystery Man Revealed

Accuser's Boyfriend is 'Single Source' of DNA on Vaginal Swab
Also on Saturday, defense attorneys conferenced by phone after which the Durham Herald Sun reported:
[A]ttorney Bill Thomas of Durham -- who represents an un-indicted lacrosse player -- said semen found in the dancer's body was "of recent origin" and had been deposited there "immediately prior to her being examined" in connection with the alleged rape.
With all that information, why couldn't the LA Times get the headline right?

Part of the answer may be that the LA Times' "story" which followed its false headline, though based on AP reports, made no mention of semen, a vaginal swap or the boyfriend.

Given everything the Times' failed to report, we can all understand why its editors wouldn't run a headline like:
"DNA lab says accuser & boyfriend a perfect match"
But why couldn't the Times have headlined something like:
"DNA results fail to clear Duke players."
Sure, that headline would be a cheap shot at the players and a big tilt in favor of the accuser, but at least it wouldn't be flat out wrong like today's LA Times' headline:
No Match in 2nd Duke DNA Test, Defense Says
I spent part of today trying to locate the email address of LA Times blog critic Patterico.

I don't doubt it's out there but I didn't find it. Can someone help?

Patterico is the perfect person to follow up on this latest example of LA Times "reporting."

Clinton v Bush poll results: Give MSM some credit

First CNN's headline:

"Poll: Clinton outperformed Bush"
Then CNN reports on a poll it commissioned:
In a new poll comparing President Bush's job performance with that of his predecessor, a strong majority of respondents said President Clinton outperformed Bush on a host of issues. [...]
Who’s surprised?

MSM regularly bashes Bush while giving Clinton gush-gush treatment as the guy who “rocks” and gave us that great economy in the 1990s.

Never mind that economic expansion was underway in the 90s before Clinton took office.

And never mind that the economy has grown significantly since Bush took office; or that we currently have a very healthy and expanding economy.

Watch CNN and believe what most of MSM tells you.

Do that and before long you’ll be telling pollsters what most Americans tell them. About the economy, for example, that it's not doing well.

Brian Williams, Katie Couric, the folks at the New York Times and the rest work very hard to make sure you have the "right" answers when pollsters ask questions.

Now back to CNN’s poll report. It ends :
Clinton was impeached in 1998 over testimony he gave in a deposition about an extramarital sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He was later acquitted by the Senate.

What a nice note CNN picks to end its report.

No mention that a federal judge cited Clinton for contempt for failing to “testify truthfully in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit.”

No mention of the court and bar association fines Clinton was forced to pay.

And certainly no mention that in October, 2001 the U. S. Supreme Court acted without dissent to disbar Clinton from practicing before the court; an action Clinton didn't contest after first saying he would.

If you're a "friend of Bill's" or a partisan Democrat, you must appreciate CNN's "acquittal" closer.

For the rest of us, it's one more example of just how blatantly most MSM spins for the Dems.