Friday, August 24, 2007

The Churchill Series - Aug. 24, 2007

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

Readers Note: Parts of the following post first appeared in a November, 2006 post.
This is the fourth in a five-part series intended to refute the assertions of some historians that Churchill was insensitive to the problems and accomplishments of ordinary people, particularly those who worked for him.

The claims of those who feel that way were presented in the first post. The second post discussed legislation Churchill supported and helped implement during the early 20th century involving the creation of labor exchanges to reduce unemployment, penal reform and old age pensions. Yesterday, the third post drew on Churchill devotion to and care for his former nurse, Mrs. Elizabeth Everest, during the last years of her life.

Today we look at how Churchill treated Mr. and Mrs. "Donkey" Jack. The Jacks (they picked up “Donkey” because they owned one) were gypsies who had an encampment on common land that adjourned Chartwell property.

Than as now many people in Europe treated gypsies as at best bothers and avoided them as much as possible. Property owners in England often pressure their town councils and other government agencies to clear gypsies off common land so they’ll leave the area.

Churchill didn’t do that with the Jacks. He was content to have them as neighbors. Clementine felt the same way.

But Churchill didn’t just leave the Jacks be. He often helped them.

When Mr. Jack died in 1933 he was to be buried in a pauper’s grave. Churchill arranged and paid for a funeral and proper burial.

The following October, Mrs. ‘Donkey’ Jack received a notice from the local government telling her she was to clear off the common land. Churchill responded by giving her permission to move her encampment onto Chartwell woodland property.

On New Year’s Day, 1935 Churchill wrote to Clementine, then on a cruise in Asia:

Mrs Donkey Jack will very likely never be able to walk again as it is unlikely her fractured ankle will knit together at her age. She was knocked down by a workman on a push bicycle and no compensation of any kind can be obtained for her in this desperate misfortune.

Should the worst be realized I shall try and get her into a decent home for the rest of her days at some small cost. …
A few weeks later he wrote Clementine:
While I was working on the new wall today Mrs Donkey Jack come walking along having trudged all the way from Westerham [ A village a bit less than 2 miles from Chartwell. – JinC] upon her injured ankle.

She was proposing to walk down there again tonight to get her pensions arrears which have accumulated while she was in hospital

I stopped this and we supplied her with food until Monday. …
Mrs. Jack continued to live on the Churchills' property and he continued to look after her until her death a few years later.

I don't know if there's one in twenty persons who would treat the Jack's with the generous neighborliness Churchill showed them.

The fifth post Monday concerns Churchill's response when one of the "ordinary people" who worked for him had a stroke.

I wish you all a good weekend.

Documentation for this post, including extracts from Churchill’s letters to Clementine, can be found in Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, edited by their daughter Mary Soames. (Doubleday, 1998) (pgs. 370-373)

Duke Plans Pres Review

Duke University announced today the appointment of a seven member committee to review President Richard H. Brodhead’s first three years in office. The announcement noted a similar review was carried out for Brodhead’s predecessor, Nannerl O. Keohane, after her first three years as president.

From Duke News:

A seven-member committee composed of members of the Board of Trustees and the faculty has been appointed to assess Richard H. Brodhead’s first three years as president of Duke University.

The committee is to report to the Board of Trustees by the end of the calendar year.[…]

“Since 1982, Duke has a system of regular reviews of its presidents, officers and deans. It’s a process we find extremely valuable, helping us learn not only about the individuals involved but also about some of the issues and challenges facing the university,” said Board of Trustees Chair Robert K. Steel.

Attorney Daniel T. Blue Jr. of Raleigh, the board’s vice chair and a member of the N.C. House of Representatives, will lead the review. The other trustees on the committee are Paula P. Burger, dean for undergraduate education and vice provost of The Johns Hopkins University; Alan D. Schwartz, president of Bear Stearns Companies Inc.; and Anthony Vitarelli, a student at Yale Law School who, like the others, earned a degree from Duke.

The three faculty members on the committee are Sara Sun Beale, Charles L. B. Lowndes Professor of Law at Duke’s School of Law; Dennis A. Clements, a professor of pediatrics, community and family medicine at Duke University Medical Center; and Sherman A. James, Susan B. King Professor of Public Policy Studies at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy.[…]
The entire Duke News announcement is here. It contains addresses and links for those wishing to contact the committee.

A few notes now, with comments to follow tomorrow –

Committee chair Dan Blue (JD’73) was a protégé and friend of President Terry Sanford. He was one of the eulogists at President Sanford’s funeral in Duke Chapel on April 23, 1998.

Blue began:
When I was 24 years old with a wife and young son and two weeks experience practicing law, Terry Sanford came to visit me in my office. He walked in, closed the door, sat down.

He could tell I was nervous. After all, who wouldn't be if you had a former governor, the president of the university from which you had just gotten your law degree and the single partner in a law firm that had just blazed a new path in this state by being among the first to hire an African-American lawyer, come in the office.

Well, after giving me a little fatherly advice on the practice of law, Terry told me, he said, "I came over here to check on you, see how you're doing. These fellows will treat you all right. If they don't let me know. And let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you." It was his law firm of course - Sanford, Cannon, Adams and McCullough, at the time.

And I later learned that Terry had placed a call to the single partners in that firm and told them that he had observed this Duke law student and he wanted them to interview me, which was tantamount to telling them "come hire me." [...]

The fact that I stand before you today, as a farm boy from Robeson County, one who embodies all of those things that Terry Sanford did and meant for North Carolina, and as I stand to help remember one who is considered one of the 10 greatest governors in America during this century, it's a clear measure of how far we have come and how far Terry Sanford has led us. […]
Blue’s eulogy was one of a number of moving tributes paid to President Sanford that day which you can access here.

This link will take you to a short Duke Invests in Talent profile of Blue.

Today’s Chronicle article reporting the review of Brodhead's service is here but I’m now having trouble accessing it. Overload perhaps.

Duke Law & Annual Giving

Duke University has yet to respond to Duke alum Ed Rickards' letter to the Durham Herald Sun ( See posts here and here).

Rickards was skeptical of annual giving numbers Duke released for the fiscal year ending 6/30/07. He said Duke’s report “must be examined carefully in light of the pressing need of President Richard Brodhead and his administration to proclaim good news in order to survive their handling of the lacrosse debacle.”

Rickards asked a number of specific questions and provided information that cast the numbers in a much less favorable light than Duke had.

Richards, who holds both undergrad and law degrees from Duke, wrote a fine letter which you can read here.

I was certain Duke would follow its usual practice of responding to a letter as serious and thoughtful as Rickards’

But two weeks have passed with no response from Duke. Let’s hope the letter’s about finished and will soon appear in the H-S.

In the meantime, referring to annual giving Rickards said: “the Law School [fell] ominously short of objective.”

I searched the annual fund site but I couldn’t find any numbers specific to the Law School and the 06/07 fy.

But I don’t have any trouble thinking of reasons why Duke Law grads might have held back some on their 06/07 annual giving.

The Brodhead administration and the trustees handling of the Duke Hoax bothered most alums; and I would think it would have especially bothered alums who were attorneys.

Duke Law alums were better trained than most other alums to recognize last Spring that Nifong’s public statements, including his ridicule of students for following the advice of their counsels and his asking why they’d need attorneys if they were innocent, constituted breaches of professional ethics.

Law alums may very well have spotted the huge holes in the case more quickly than most other alums.

Given Nifong ethical breaches and the huge holes in the case, Law alums must have wondered why President Brodhead kept telling the students to cooperate while saying not one word critical of Nifong.

It's not hard to guess what Law alums who “argue the facts” for their clients thought when Brodhead told Ed Bradley “the facts kept changing?”

Brodhead told the Friends of Duke University he was looking forward to the students being put on trial where they’d have a chance to be “proved innocent.”

What Duke Law alum wouldn’t gag on that?

Well, there are a few of my thoughts. What about yours?

Message to Duke: The letter, please. Rickards and H-S readers deserve a response. And it's in the University’s long-term interest to provide one.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 23, 2007

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

This is the third in a five-part series intended to refute the assertions of some historians that Churchill was insensitive to the problems and accomplishments of ordinary people, particularly ones who worked for him.

The claims of those who feel that way were presented in the first post. Yesterday’s post discussed legislation Churchill took the lead in supporting and implementing during the early 20th century. The laws concerned, among other things, provisions for labor exchanges to reduce unemployment, penal reform and old age pensions. Churchill often said when he thought of those who’d benefited from old age pensions, his nurse, Elizabeth Ann Everest, would come to mind.

Everest died before the passage of government administered pensions was put in place but she was precisely the type of person Churchill was seeking to help when he fought to put in place the old age pension program.

Mrs. Everest entered service with the Spencer Churchill family when Winston was six weeks old and she was forty-four. She was intensely devoted to him and his younger brother, John (Jack), born when Winston was four.

Churchill said he loved his mother “but at a distance.” Violet Asquith, who was Churchill's friend from youth until his death wrote: "[During Winston’s] solitary childhood and unhappy school days, Mrs. Everest was his comforter, his strength and stay, his one source of unfailing human understanding. She was the fireside at which he dried his tears and warmed his heart. She was the night light by his bed. She was security."

It wasn’t just Mrs. Everest who helped Churchill learn even in youth about the lives of ordinary people. During holidays when Lord Randolph and Jennie were busy with social engagements or travel, Mrs. Everest often took Winston and Jack to stay with her sister and her sister’s husband. He was a retired prison worker who appears to have been a very kind man who spent a lot of time with Churchill. They would often walk together on the cliffs overlooking the Channel. When Churchill was a little older the man began to interest Churchill in history.

Churchill was in his teens when Jennie, to save money, decided to discharge Mrs. Everest. At her age - she was now about sixty - it would be hard to find employment. She did not have means to support herself.

With Winston in the lead, both brothers raised Hades. They badgered Jennie and other family members until Churchill’s grandmother found a place for Mrs. Everest in her house.

A few years later during her last illness, Churchill arranged for medical care she could not afford (a bedside nurse and visitation by a specialist). When Mrs. Everest died he arranged and paid for her funeral as well as the headstone which marks her grave. You can view it here.

Churchill could not have loved and helped Mrs. Everest, and been tended by her and her family without, in the process, learning about the lives of “ordinary people.”

Tomorrow we’ll see Churchill extend hospitality, care and compassion to two people most others would have just run off.

Thank you, JinC Editors


I’ve said it before: one of the falsehoods most MSM journalists peddle is “bloggers have no editors so you can’t rely on them the way you can on us.” That's baloney!

JinC has hundreds of editors. Many of you reading this are among them. Your corrections, additions and prompts make this “electronic journal” much better than it would otherwise be.

I appreciate your work. Thank you.

Yes, the pay is lousy but your “job satisfaction” ought to be very high.

I’m only half-kidding about that.

The serious –really momentous – half is that you “editors” are part of a communication and control revolution that will likely prove to be as great as, or greater than, that brought about by the development of the printing press.

At his eponymous blog, screen and mystery writer Roger Simon recently posted on the revolution.

I’ll give him the last word tonight. His post is a tribute to all who edit blogs and bloggers the way so many of you do.

I’ll be back “talking” some more about you this weekend.

Again, thanks.


Now Simon:

The New Republic - Only an Idiot Would Pay For This

In the midst of reading (a bit late) the revelations regarding the lies of Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp in The New Republic, I clicked over to, only to be reminded the magazine is actually asking us to buy a subscription to read their publication on line. In other words, they want us to pay for their lies!

Can you imagine anything more absurd and shameful? Who would be such an idiot?

Here's the top article on their web page today: The Overhyping of David Petraeus, Army of One by Andrew J. Bacevich . The first graph hints that General Petraeus is being oversold as our savior in Iraq. But to read more, to get the "facts" backing this up, you have to pay. The cost of a digital subscription to TNR is $29.95.

Considering the amount of free information about Petraeus and everything else online, let's hope Mr. Bacevich's facts are more reliable than Private Beauchamp's.

Or perhaps TNR will offer our money back for disinfo and propaganda.

But allow me to go further. As many reading this know, I am not a "young blogger," alas (wish I were). I spent a lifetime working in mainstream media - book publishing, Hollywood movies, newspapers and magazines.

Fact-checking, in my experience, is a big lie. It barely exists in the mainstream media.

As an example, I wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times on my experiences on the jury of a film festival in Siberia. It contained many statements about the state of the Russian film industry in the post-Soviet era.

My fact-checking? It consisted of a young lady calling me up and asking me "Did this happen?" I said, "Yes." End of conversation. That was fact-checking.

And with some exceptions, that is par for the course. Mainstream media cannot afford extensive fact-checking. They are already in the soup financially. Where would they find the money to do it, even if they wanted to.

Blogs, of course, are much better at fact-checking. [What? You can't be serious.-ed. Damn right, I am.] Thousands of eyes are staring at these words right now, many of them belonging to people much more qualified and capable than the fact-checkers of the MSM. An open comment section lurks below.

It's hard to get a spelling error by here for long, let alone a serious error of fact. If I were making up stories like Pvt. Beauchamp, I would be crucified - and deservedly so.

Of course, I am up against questions of fact-checking every day as an executive at Pajamas Media. It can be nerve-wracking and humbling (fortunately we have those comments to keep us honest) and for that reason I have some sympathy for [New Republic editors] Martin Peretz and Franklin Foer. But not a lot.

Their way is the old way. If it's not over now, it's over soon. And the Beauchamp Affair put another nail in the MSM coffin. Pretty soon it will be thrown overboard.

"Editor's" post coming


If you're a JinC Regular you have some idea of how much "editors" here improve this blog.

I'll be posting some more about that later tonight.

Look for a post about 11 PM Eastern titled Thank you, JinC Editors.


N&O says “lines are open”

The Raleigh News & Observer hosts the Editors’ Blog where five editors – the executive editor for news, the managing editor, and three deputy managing editors – all blog.

Doesn't that sound like a blog where you’d see lots of commnets?

When seeking ads, the N&O claims it reaches a half-million readers with its Sunday editon.

But the EB has a problem.

Executive editor Melanie Sill explained in the following August 15 post:

Attention Editor's Blog readers: The lines are open

This blog is about two years old now. We are looking at its effectiveness, as we assess everything we do from time to time, and are interested in any suggestions or comments. As with most blogs, the number of readers is many times larger than the number of people who post comments.

The blog was most active (and most visited) during the Duke lacrosse case coverage. Before that, a flap over radio station Air America probably provided the most comments, though that situation seemed odd given the lack of any real connection between N&O coverage and the liberal radio station.

The blog gives us a way to address coverage issues and mistakes right away.

What's missing, or what do you like?

Post below so other readers can share the dialogue, or if you prefer email me or John Drescher directly at the links to the right.


I’ve just left the following comment on Sill's post thread.

Dear Melanie:

I didn’t respond before now because I wanted to give others a chance to have their say first.

Since more than a week has gone by with no one responding, I’ll go ahead and say a few things while we wait for the others.

First, why do you think so few people comment here?

No doubt you and the other four editors have discussed the question. What did you tell yourselves?

If you’ll post your answers, I bet you’ll get some dialogue going.

Now as to: “What’s missing, or what do you like?”

Well, missing from the N&O’s 3/24/06 story which “broke” the Duke lacrosse case was any mention of the extensive cooperation the players provided police.

The N&O also withheld information about the players’ cooperation from your 3/25/06 “anonymous interview” story which you told readers was about a night which ended in “sexual violence.”

Instead, the N&O promulgated the lie that the players were not cooperating.

What I’d like to have, Melanie, are answers to questions I’ve been asking since last Spring. Many others also want answers to those questions which include:

Why did the N&O say nothing in it’s 3/24 & 25 stories about the players’ cooperation?

Information about the players’ cooperation was out there.

Did all the editors who worked on those stories agree from the get-go that it was OK to say nothing about the players’ cooperation?

In your 3/25 story, why did the N&O promulgate what it knew was the lie that the players’ weren’t cooperating?

On what date and in what detail following your 3/25 story did you first report on the players’ cooperation with police.

Why has it taken you more than a year to answer these questions?

I look forward to your answers.

I’ll end now and give you and others a chance to respond.


John in Carolina

Former DPD Sgt Says Top Cops Involved

Readers Note: Yesterday’s Durham Herald Sun contained a letter by a former DPD officer. If you’re already read it, you can skip the letter and go past the double starline to where my comments begin.



To the editor:

City Manager Patrick Baker realized the need for change within the Durham Police Department. Hiring Jose Lopez to lead the Police Department was the right move. He is in a strong position to make overdue command staff changes and Baker should remind him of this opportunity often.

The circumstances of the Duke lacrosse fallout and other ill-advised departmental decisions reinforce the need for change.

Durham officers long for more changes, especially the patrol officers. These men and women are most affected when command decisions are based on emotional and personal convictions rather than hard, extant evidence of solid police practices.

Operation Bull's Eye is one example of wasted taxpayer money. My fear is that it is a direct attempt to overshadow the Duke lacrosse investigation and to counter positive activities recently initiated by the Sheriff's Office in North-East Central Durham. The last few shootings and murders in Durham have not been in the target area of Operation Bull's Eye.

The Whichard committee is currently investigating the Police Department. Some leaders of the department may be held accountable. The trail leading to ineptness will most certainly reach the highest levels of the department. (emphasis mine)

When the end of the trail is reached, it will be interesting to see if the new chief and the City Council really believe change is needed.

Jerry Grugin

The writer is a former Durham Police Department sergeant.



As you read the rest of my commentary keep two things in mind:

1) On April 11, 2007 the NC Attorney General said with regard to the Duke lacrosse case: “the State had no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.”

2) On July 26, 2007 former Durham DA Mike Nifong speaking at a court hearing concerning criminal contempt charges filed against him said: "I agree with the attorney general’s statement that there is no credible evidence that Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty and Mr. Evans committed any of the crimes for which they were indicted or any other crimes during the party that occurred on March 13 and 14 of 2006 at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd."
In his letter Sgt. Grugin says, “The trail leading to ineptness will most certainly reach the highest levels of the department.”

I don’t think ineptness is the best word for what Sgt. Grugin is talking about. But he sure is right when he says the trail “will most certainly reach the highest levels of the department.”

Recall that DPD Deputy Chief Ron Hodge was in day-to-day charge of the department during most of the “investigation.”

In this post I provided a link to an April 12, 2006 MSNBC story which included this from Hodge:
"I don't think we would be here if it wasn't (a strong case)," Maj. Ron Hodge, the assistant (sic) chief of the Durham Police Department, said after the forum. (Hodge is deputy chief. The parenthetical "a strong case" is in the MSNBC story. – JinC ).
Nine months later in January 2007 when Nifong stepped aside and turned the case over to the NC Attorney General’s office, Hodge assured the Raleigh News & Observer DPD had collected evidence and that the case would go forward. I posted on the story here. The post contains a link to the N&O story which included:
Deputy Police Chief Ron Hodge said Nifong's stepping aside won't change the substance of the evidence collected by the department's detectives that a sexual assault occurred.

Hodge said he thinks that the case will still go forward and that the remaining charges will be prosecuted.

"I don't think it changes anything that we've done," Hodge said. "It just means that we'll have to deal with a different attorney."
Why did Hodge say last April DPD had a strong case when, as we now know, it never had any credible evidence? Hodge must have known that then.

Why did Hodge claim in January that DPD had collected evidence which would enable a prosecutor to go forward with the case when, as the Attorney General said just three months later, there was no credible evidence any crime had been committed?

What was Hodge doing?

What kind of police officer and administrator is Deputy Chief Ron Hodge?

The Whichard Committee has some very important work to do.

Thanks go to Sgt. Grugin for reminding us that what's happened in DPD during the Duke lacrosse frame-up and the on-going cover-up isn’t a matter of a few officers in the lower ranks doing things they shouldn’t have done. The top cops knew what was going on.

And they could have stopped it.

A good opening question for the Whichard Committtee to ask Hodge is: "Will you please, Chief Hodge, tell us a little about your professional background and work with DPD?

That should be followed with: “Now tell us about this evidence of a strong case you say DPD collected?”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 22, 2007

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

This is the second in a five-part series intended to refute assertions by some historians that Churchill was insensitive to the problems and accomplishments of ordinary people, particularly ones who worked for him.

In the first post historian Maurice Ashley, who as a young academic worked for Churchill and remained a friend thereafter, set out the case “for the prosecution.” Ashley did it as a “professional duty.” He never himself agreed with “the prosecution.”

Today I begin “the case for defense” with the following from Grolier Online (scroll down) :

As Liberal M. P. for Northwest Manchester and for Dundee, he was in a position [during the first decade of the 20th century] to share in the long Liberal run of power and to take his place in one of the ablest British governments in modern times. As undersecretary of state for the colonies he played a considerable part in making a generous peace with the Boers.

As president of the board of trade (1908-1910) and home secretary (1910-1911), he contributed largely to the early legislation of the welfare state. He helped to create labor exchanges, to introduce health and unemployment insurance, to prescribe minimum wages in certain industries, and to limit working hours.
And this from Spartacus (scroll down):
Following the 1910 General Election Churchill became Home Secretary. Churchill introduced several reforms to the prison system, including the provision of lecturers and concerts for prisoners and the setting up of special after-care associations to help convicts after they had served their sentence.
Among the many social reforms Churchill helped put in place the one I believe he was most proud of was the program of old age pensions.

For this post I wanted to find in My Early Life (Touchstone, 1996) the passages in which he speaks about the salutary effect old age pensions have had on the lives of millions. But the book doesn't have an index and I couldn't find the passages. I'll try for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the life of the person I believe first taught Churchill about the lives of ordinary people: his nanny and surrogate mother, Ms. Elizabeth Ann Edwards.

Stossel on U.S. Health-Care Rankings

The always well-informed John Stossel at

The New York Times recently declared "the disturbing truth ... that ... the United States is a laggard not a leader in providing good medical care."

As usual, the Times editors get it wrong.

They find evidence in a 2000 World Health Organization (WHO) rating of 191 nations and a Commonwealth Fund study of wealthy nations published last May.

In the WHO rankings, the United States finished 37th, behind nations like Morocco, Cyprus and Costa Rica. Finishing first and second were France and Italy. Michael Moore makes much of this in his movie "Sicko."

The Commonwealth Fund looked at Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States -- and ranked the U.S. last or next to last on all but one criterion.

So the verdict is in. The vaunted U.S. medical system is one of the worst.

But there's less to these studies than meets the eye. They measure something other than quality of medical care. So saying that the U.S. finished behind those other countries is misleading.

First let's acknowledge that the U.S. medical system has serious problems. But the problems stem from departures from free-market principles. The system is riddled with tax manipulation, costly insurance mandates and bureaucratic interference.

Most important, six out of seven health-care dollars are spent by third parties, which means that most consumers exercise no cost-consciousness. As Milton Friedman always pointed out, no one spends other people's money as carefully as he spends his own.

Even with all that, it strains credulity to hear that the U.S. ranks far from the top. Sick people come to the United States for treatment. When was the last time you heard of someone leaving this country to get medical care?

The last famous case I can remember is Rock Hudson, who went to France in the 1980s to seek treatment for AIDS.

So what's wrong with the WHO and Commonwealth Fund studies? Let me count the ways.
Folks, what you’re about to read illustrates the difference between those rare journalists like Stossel who “dig” and “read the documents” and most MSM reporters who simply base their stories on “the handouts.”
The WHO judged a country's quality of health on life expectancy.

But that's a lousy measure of a health-care system. Many things that cause premature death have nothing do with medical care. We have far more fatal transportation accidents than other countries. That's not a health-care problem.

Similarly, our homicide rate is 10 times higher than in the U.K., eight times higher than in France, and five times greater than in Canada.

When you adjust for these "fatal injury" rates, U.S. life expectancy is actually higher than in nearly every other industrialized nation.

Diet and lack of exercise also bring down average life expectancy.

Another reason the U.S. didn't score high in the WHO rankings is that we are less socialistic than other nations.

What has that got to do with the quality of health care?

For the authors of the study, it's crucial. The WHO judged countries not on the absolute quality of health care, but on how "fairly" health care of any quality is "distributed."

The problem here is obvious. By that criterion, a country with high-quality care overall but "unequal distribution" would rank below a country with lower quality care but equal distribution.
The rest of Stossel’s column is here.

It’s a pity more MSM reporters aren’t as smart and hard-working as Stossel. With more information and better analysis of health-care statistics, Americans could lead healthier lives.

You Gave to the Raleigh N&O

If you read the liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observers editorial page, you know the N&O speaks out against takes breaks for big corporations like IBM, and Wal-Mart.

The N&O says “average citizens” have to pick up the costs of the tax benefits that “high paid lobbyists” and “big campaign contributors” influence Congress to grant big businesses.

True enough.

Now with that in mind and remembering the N&O is owned by The McClatchy Company, please read the following from the latest issue of the American Journalism Review and then answer a few questions that follow.

From the AJR [excerpt]:

The [Minneapolis] Star Tribune was for generations the pride and joy of the Cowles family, who continue to exert an enormous influence on the economy and the culture of the region. Given what was to follow, the warm nostalgia for the Cowles era is understandable.

The family sold Cowles Media Co., including the Star Tribune, for $1.2 billion to McClatchy in 1998. If the newspaper had to be sold to a chain, the common wisdom went, you couldn't do much better than McClatchy, with its reputation for putting the newsroom first.

The romance lasted eight years. Gary Pruitt, McClatchy's chairman and CEO, stunned Star Tribune employees the day after Christmas last year by announcing the paper was being sold to a private equity firm in New York, Avista Capital Partners. The billion-dollar company was now a $530 million property. Pruitt explained that McClatchy got a great tax break by selling.

Shortly before the sale was announced, Anders Gyllenhaal, editor of the Star Tribune for almost five years, told his staff he would be leaving in early March to take over as editor of McClatchy's Miami Herald.

A few weeks before Gyllenhaal left, Star Tribune Publisher J. Keith Moyer announced that Nancy Barnes would replace him. Barnes had been a protégé of Gyllenhaal's when he was editor of Raleigh's News & Observer, also a McClatchy paper. Gyllenhaal had lured Barnes to Minneapolis to serve as assistant managing editor for business in 2003, and by 2005 she had become a deputy managing editor.
Estimates of the tax breaks McClatchy will receive are mostly in the $300 million range with one as low as $160 million.


Can you recall the last time the N&O or any newspaper you’ve read mentioned in an editorial that it was a beneficiary of “big business tax breaks?”

Have you read a newspaper editorial even once in your life attacking “big businesses use of high paid lobbyists to gain favors” that added: “And then there are newspapers such as this one whose ability to influence news reporting and make political endorsements is not lost on Congress when it goes to dole out tax favors?”

If you’re an “average citizen,” did you know you’d just been helping the McClatchy Company with its tax bill?

I didn’t read anything about it in the N&O. What about you?

You can read the entire AJR article here.

Democracy & Journalists

Rem Rieder, editor and senior vice president of American Journalism Review, is worried about the decline in newspaper readership and the consequent decline in what he calls “large armies of [MSM] reporters.”

In Sunday’s Raleigh News & Observer Rieder tells us why he thinks we should worry too:

Here's why: democracy.

An informed electorate is critical to democracy. And providing that information properly is expensive. It requires a lot of reporting firepower. And large reporting staffs tend to be fielded by newspapers.
I decided to send Rieder the following electronic letter.

Rem Rieder, Editor and Senior Vice President
American Journalism Review

Dear Editor Rieder:

I blog at John in Carolina where I report and comment concerning MSM news organizations, particularly the Raleigh News & Observer.

I read your opinion column in Sunday’s Raleigh N&O. I’ve also listened to an audio tape of the May 22 National Press Club’s Duke lacrosse newsmakers forum at which you served as a panelist.

In your N&O column you noted the vital link between journalists and democracy.

I agree. Honest and accurate news reporting enables democracy as surely as dishonest and inaccurate reporting destroys it.

With that in mind, I’d like to ask you some questions concerning your response and the audience’s response to statements N&O investigative reporter Joseph (Joe) Neff made when he served with you as a panelist at the press club forum. I transcribed Neff’s statements in question from an audio purchased from the club. (Purchase information is in this post.)

Neff said:
“One of the things that I think really helped our paper throughout this story is we have a really strict policy against the use of anonymous sources and we did not use a single anonymous source or unnamed source in our – uh – I think as of now we’ve written 541 articles by – with at least 19 different bylines on it and what that (Neff pauses)

It was really frustrating in the initial couple of weeks when it was so competitive and no other newspaper and no other radio or TV station felt compelled to – they were going with 'sources close to the prosecution' or 'we have learned' or 'Nightline has found out' and they would just put stuff out there.

Now some of it we knew because we were told off the record, but we won’t use it, but some of it was absolute nonsense –ah – ah – so it allowed us to get beat on some very small things, but in general by not using anonymous sources, we were really saved – ah – from putting some –ah- some bad stuff in the paper.”
(Moderator moves to another matter)
Could there have been more than one or two journalists at the forum who didn’t know the N&O story which launched witch hunt and media frenzy, Dancer gives details of ordeal , was based on an anonymous source interview?

The N&O’s Duke lacrosse reporting relied on so many anonymous and/or unnamed sources ( Is there a difference?) that three weeks after the “Dancer … ordeal” story appeared, the N&O published a story, Mother, dancer, accuser , identifying its sources as “former classmates and neighbors, friends and family members.”

The N&O even published on April 2, 2006 a photo of a “Vigilante” poster which it obtained from an anonymous source.

I felt sure you’d call Neff’s statements to his attention and invite him to correct or clarify them.

But you said nothing?

Why not?

The current issue of the American Journalism Review contains your managing editor, Rachel Smolkin’s, 8,000 word critique of media coverage of the Duke lacrosse case. It includes the following:
[N&O executive editor for news Melanie] Sill's reporters also watched in frustration as national media vied for their sources. "It was a messy story, and the outside media coverage, especially the cable television shows, the presence of every national media outlet here, made it much harder to report," she says. "People we would normally just go interview were having press conferences, or wouldn't talk, or would only talk in a leaking situation." But top editors told the staff that quoting unnamed sources was unacceptable.
Why, Editor Rieder, did AJR tell its readers “top [N&O] editors told the staff that quoting unnamed sources was unacceptable” without also telling them the N&O repeatedly used such sources?

Will you issue a prominent correction?

Press club staffers told me there was “very good attendance” at the forum and that almost everyone there had press credentials.

Yet during the Q&A no one asked Neff about his statements, which just about everyone had to know were false.

I’d have thought the last place someone could make a series of false statements and not be called on them was the National Press Club.

Am I naïve?

Lest you tell me to contact Neff and ask him to correct or clarify, I’ve done that repeatedly (See here, here and here ). He's responded by saying I’d have to disclose who I am before he’d even talk to me.

Thank you for your attention to this letter. I look forward to your response.


John in Carolina


I'll keep you posted as to what I hear back from Rieder.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Churchill Series - Aug. 21, 2007

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

Today begins a five-part series intended to refute assertions by some historians that Churchill was insensitive to the problems and accomplishments of ordinary people, particularly ones who worked for him.

In this first post historian Maurice Ashley, who as a young academic just beginning his career worked for Churchill during the 30s and remained a friend for life sets out the case (scroll down)others have made for Churchill as insensitive to ordinary people:

Clementine Churchill once remarked to Lord Moran about her husband: "You probably don't realize, Charles, that he knows nothing of the life of ordinary people. He's never been in a bus and only once on the underground."

Taking this as their text, some commentators on Churchill have suggested that he was indifferent to the lot of ordinary people, even those who worked for him. A.J.P. Taylor has written that he was an "atrocious" employer.

A reviewer of William Manchester's book, The Lion Caged, deduced that he treated his research assistants and secretaries badly and underpaid them.

That was certainly not my own experience nor my own impression. He paid me £300 a year on a half-time basis and later raised my salary to £400 a year. When I was with him I applied for a lectureship in history at Reading University: the pay offered was £250 a year and there were a hundred applicants for the post. Later when I joined the Manchester Guardian as a lead-writer I was paid £5 a week.

He always treated me with the utmost consideration, almost as an equal. […]

His secretaries, when I was with him, adored him. They knew he was temperamental and could be annoying, but they recognized that he valued their work and could show consideration. Violet Pearman, then his chief secretary, was devoted to him. When she was taken ill he gave her work to do at home and he gave her daughter money after she died.

Other secretaries received paintings, which they were able to sell at a high price, which gave them comfort when they retired. When I was with him his chauffeur had a wife who was dying of tuberculosis; so Churchill never expected him to work in the evenings.

My own impression is that Churchill was perfectly well aware of the difficulties of ordinary people.
Tomorrow’s post will include details of some legislation Churchill fought for and helped put in place a century ago that had an enormously beneficial effect on the lives of ordinary people than and ever since.

BTW – I respect Ashley but I’m skeptical of most statements about Churchill that come to us via Lord Moran. Can any of you find a source for the Clementine Churchill quote other than Moran? Did she ever confirm it?

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Churchill Series - Aug. 20, 2007

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

In August, 1989 Sir Maurice Ashley addressed the international conference of the Churchill Society's meeting in London. By then a distinguished historian and Churchill biographer, Ashley looked back sixty years to his first meeting with Churchill, at which began a working relationship and friendship that lasted for thirty-five years until Churchill’s death in 1965:

I was twenty-two years old at the time. I had just taken a first-class degree in modern history and won several prizes and was anxious to become financially independent of my parents.

I had managed to obtain two or three research grants, but they were not enough to live on.

During the summer I received a letter from Keith Feiling, who was a Student, that is to say Fellow of Christ Church, telling me that Winston Churchill was looking for a part-time research assistant for a book he was planning to write about his ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough.

I was then a keen young socialist and had been both secretary and chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club.

The name of Churchill was an anathema to me because we young socialists believed that Churchill was chiefly responsible for crushing the General Strike of 1926, called on behalf of the coal miners.

As a matter of fact, as we now know, Churchill was sympathetic to the claims of the miners, who were then paid a pitiful wage, and he did not care for the coal-owners. He would have liked minimum wages to be guaranteed to the miners and a limitation imposed on the profits of the owners, but he was overruled by the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin.

At any rate, after thinking the matter over, I changed my mind: after all Churchill was a famous man - and I needed some money.

I was invited to meet Churchill at a luncheon in the rooms of Professor Lindemann, later Lord Cherwell, a close friend of Churchill. There was no interview. Churchill sat by me on a sofa and said: "I hear you are going to work for me." Lindemann asked Churchill if he would like Champagne for his lunch. Churchill replied, "I always have beer for lunch."

Soon I was invited to stay at Chartwell, Churchill's country home. It was a revelation for me as a middle-class youth to move into this semi-aristocratic atmosphere. Churchill said to me: "I always dress for dinner." This was not strictly true - he certainly did not do so when he was in Africa. However, there it was. A valet laid out my clothes.

Before dinner we had sherry, then Champagne, brandy and port. During the night I was violently sick.

On the following evening at dinner I refused the port. "Ah!," said Churchill, "I have some excellent Madeira." Afterwards, whenever I dined at Chartwell, Churchill would say: "Ashley likes Madeira."
I’ll just leave Ashley’s recollections stand without comment.

You can read his entire address here, courtesy of the Churchill Center.

JinC’s Undeserved "Rewards"

JinC Regulars know that last week I posted Brodhead Silent on Boycott Proposal (Error Alert) which included a quote from and link to an NRO post stating Duke’s President, Richard Brodhead, hadn’t spoken out in opposition to a proposed boycott of Israeli universities by a union of British college and university lecturers.

A JinC Regular, Duke Prof Michael Gustafson, quickly reported the NRO post and the part of mine which used it were wrong.

Sure enough, that was the case. You can read Brodhead’s excellent statement opposing the boycott here.

I immediately did what any good blogger would do: I corrected my mistake.

I put an ERROR ALERT, correction and apology to Brodhead and JinC readers at the head of the post.

Because of the seriousness of misstating a university president’s position on so important a matter, and because NRO has an international reach, I also put up a separate post calling attention to the error and providing links so anyone could fact-check: Brodhead Opposes Proposed Boycott.

I was sorry for my mistake but I’d done what I could to correct it, so I went on to a four hour meeting.

I got back home about 7 PM and checked email, JinC and my number counts.

That’s when I learned I was getting “rewards” I didn’t deserve.

There were comments both off- and online praising me for my “integrity” and “having what it takes to admit a mistake unlike the Group of 88.”

Folks, I appreciated those comments but they weren’t deserved.

A big part of my correcting was self-interest. Most of you wouldn’t come here if you knew I wouldn’t quickly acknowledge and correct errors concerning facts.

As for my somehow being better than Group of 88’ers, let’s all remember this: I didn’t mean to post in error concerning Brodhead, so it was easy for me to say I was wrong.

Almost all Duke's 88 were and remain deeply invested in the falsehoods in their “listening statements.” They are still grateful to the people they thanked for “not waiting.” They sincerely believe Duke is the disgustingly racist and sexist place they described in their statement.

Those 88'ers are much like people who sincerely and deeply believe a certain racial or national group is inferior to other groups.

So how can 88'ers admit their errors, much less apologize for them, when they don’t know they’re wrong?

Getting back to ol’ JinC, I did appreciate those nice words even if they were undeserved.

Now something else I didn’t deserve: I got what many bloggers call their “favorite dream:” a link from Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.

Reynolds had posted on the NRO post and somehow he picked on my second post. He used it to call his readers attention to the NRO error.

As a result, I got thousands of visitors.

But there was more. Many other bloggers linked to the correction and praised me.

Again, all underserved.

Closing comments –

I appreciate all the JinC “editors” who point out my errors. I plan a major post citing the “editors” work to knock the false claim that many in MSM make about blogs being unedited and, therefore, untrustworthy.

I’ve made three contacts with NRO to get them to correct. I’ve heard nothing back despite one of the contacts being a phone conversation with a staff member. The last time I looked, NRO hadn’t made a correction.

Special thanks to another JinC Regular, AMac, who put me on to NRO's failure to correct.

I don't know why NRO wouldn't quickly correct and apologize. Who do they think they are: The Raleigh N&O or the NT Times?

Goodbye, Cindy. Hello, Elvira

Liberal and leftist interest groups put on shows much the way Broadway producers do. They write scripts, pick leads, and work on scenes.

Like their Broadway counterparts, they want their shows to draw huge audiences.

To get people “to come to the show,” liberal/leftists count on gobs of free publicity and sympathetic reviews from their MSM friends.

In the past few years the liberal/leftists’ most popular shows have been Cindy Sheehan, Peace Activist and Mike Nifong, Durham Prosecutor.

But neither show “sells” anymore.

A Cindy Sheehan production now rarely draws more than a few dozen; and that’s after a big MSM press buildup. When she appears on liberal talk radio network NPR, she draws about as well as Gerhard Schroeder.

And Mike Nifong, Durham Prosecutor?

That was an improvisational production. Liberals and leftists liked the opening scenes but when people started walking on stage saying, “They're innocent,” and, “Did you hear Nifong was disbarred?”, liberals and leftist began leaving.

They were saying things like: “Pot banging is more fun; and it makes us feel more righteous, too.”

So liberal/leftists need to roll out a new production. And they did that this weekend.

It’s a show about a poor, heroic, illegal immigrant mother, Elvira Arellano, who’s heartlessly separated from her young child as she’s reaching out to help others whose families are being torn apart by an organization liberal/leftist producers often cast as an evil doer: The United States Government.

One of those helping with this latest production is the Associated Press. Its summary of the opening scenes from act one is below.

I can’t tell from just the opening scenes if the show will be as big a “hit” as Cindy Sheehan, Peace Activist was for a few years or if it will “tank” as Mike Nifong, Durham Prosecutor did after months of very favorable MSM coverage designed to prop it up.

What do you think?

From the AP: Immigration Activist Deported to Mexico

An illegal immigrant who took refuge in a Chicago church for a year to avoid being separated from her U.S.-born son has been deported to Mexico, the church's pastor said.

Elvira Arellano became an activist and a national symbol for illegal immigrant parents as she defied her deportation order and spoke out from her religious sanctuary. She held a news conference last week to announce that she would finally leave the church to try to lobby U.S. lawmakers for change.

She had just spoken at rally Los Angeles rally when she was arrested Sunday outside Our Lady Queen of Angels church and deported, said the Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, where Arellano had been living.

"She has been deported. She is free and in Tijuana," said Coleman, who said he spoke to her on the phone. "She is in good spirits. She is ready to continue the struggle against the separation of families from the other side of the border."

Her 8-year-old son, Saul, is now living with Coleman's family. During a news conference in Los Angeles after Arellano's arrest, the boy hid behind the pastor's wife and wiped away tears.

Arellano had said on Saturday that she was not afraid of being taken into custody by immigration agents.

"From the time I took sanctuary, the possibility has existed that they arrest me in the place and time they want," she said in Spanish. "I only have two choices. I either go to my country, Mexico, or stay and keep fighting. I decided to stay and fight."

Arellano, 32, arrived in Washington state illegally in 1997. She was deported to Mexico shortly afterward, but returned and moved to Illinois in 2000, taking a job cleaning planes at O'Hare International Airport.

She was arrested in 2002 at O'Hare and convicted of working under a false Social Security number. She was to surrender to authorities last August but instead sought refuge at the church on Aug. 15, 2006.

She had not left the church property until she decided to travel by car to Los Angeles, Coleman said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed her Sunday arrest. Spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said the agency would have further details on the deportation later Monday.

Arellano is staying with a friend in Tijuana, Coleman said. He said she had brought to light her struggle, and for that, "she has won a victory."

"She'll be organizing on the Mexican side of the border while we're organizing in the (United) States," Coleman said Monday. "She'll be talking to organizations throughout Mexico and congressmen in Mexico City."

Coleman said he and other activists will continue Arellano's original plan to go to Washington, D.C., and take part in a prayer meeting and rally for immigration reform at the Capitol on Sept. 12.

Immigration activists promised protests and vigils to support Arellano.

"We are sad, but at the same time we are angry," said Javier Rodriguez, a Chicago immigration activist who worked with Arellano. "How dare they arrest this woman?"
Anti-illegal immigrant groups said the arrest was long overdue.

"Just because the woman has gone public and made an issue of the fact that she is defying law doesn't mean the government doesn't have to do its job," said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors limits on immigration.

Arellano has repeatedly called for a stop to immigration raids that break up families with some members who are in the U.S. legally and others illegally. She has said her son would be deprived of his rights as a U.S. citizen if he had to go to Mexico simply because she did.

Emma Lozano, Coleman's wife and head of immigration rights group Centro Sin Fronteras in Chicago, said she was Saul's legal guardian.

"He's taking it better than we thought he would," Lozano said.

While being arrested, Arellano spoke briefly with her son before submitting to authorities, Lozano said.

"She calmed him down, hugged him and gave him a blessing," Lozano said.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Churchill, Chicks & Ice Cream

I was researching at the Churchill Center’s website and came upon this paragraph trumpeting the growth in interest in history, and in Churchill in particular:

Consider the success of the History Channel, burgeoning sales of history books (over twenty on Churchill in 2006-08), heritage site visitations, historical reenactments, or the in infinite number of educational websites. Enter "Winston Churchill" into Google and you get 2,750,000 hits--more than Roosevelt, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or any other 20th century figure.
I have serious concerns Americans don’t know enough about history or have much interest in learning it. But I’ll leave that for another day.

That Google figure of 2,750,000 “Winston Churchill” hits the Center used caught my eye.

I Googled “Winston Churchill” at 2 PM Eastern on 8/19/07 and got 2,860,000 hits.

Given that Google hit return numbers can vary hour-by-hour, the Center’s “Winston Churchill” number was as right as can be.

But should Churchill’s Google numbers reassure us? Do they prove much in terms of a growing interest in him and history?

Here are the results of some more Googling I did at the same time.

“Dixie Chicks” returned 2,380,000 hits. “Barbra Streisand” returned 2,370,000.

They’re running Churchill a good race. I think he’s been hurt by not having a hit record in years. And, of course, he doesn’t do live concerts.

“Ice cream” yielded 35, 900,000 and “Ben and Jerry” 1,390,000.

Well, I reported and gave a few thoughts. What do you think?

AP’s Dem Fournier on Rove

When presidential aide Karl Rove’s resignation was announced, AP political reporter Ron Fournier wrote an “analysis” of Rove’s character and his work for President Bush.

Among other things Fournier, who’s Democratic partisanship and Bush-bashing help undermine the AP’s claim to political objectivity, had this to say about what he termed Rove’s “involve[ment]” in the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity to columnist Bob Novak [on pg. 3 of the "analysis" ]:

Rove's own word came into doubt when a White House spokesman, after checking with him, denied that the strategist was involved in the leak of a CIA agent's identity. Turned out, Rove was one of the leakers.
Not so fast, “analyst” and Democrat Ron Fournier.

Bob Novak, writing the same time as Fournier, repeated some things he’s said often and Fournier no doubt knew:
Although [Special Counsel Patrick] Fitzgerald knew from the start that not Rove but the politically nondescript Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was my primary source in identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA employee, the prosecutor came close to indicting Rove for perjury or obstruction of justice. Rove rivaled Bush as a hate figure for left-wing politics.
Fournier never told readers Armitage was the source of the Plame leak or that Fitzgerald knew that in the very first days of his “investigation.”

Nor did Fournier acknowledge that what Rove did was to simply confirm to TIME reporter Matt Cooper, husband of Democratic Party activist Mandy Grunwald, that he’d heard Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA and had a role in the agency’s decision to send her husband Joe Wilson on a fact-finding trip to Niger.

Rove wasn’t leaking; he was confirming. That happens in Washington hundreds of times each day. Reporters use confirmations to get their stories "right." A good reporter is careful to let readers know when he/she is using a "leaker" and when the story "has been confirmed."

Fournier knows Rove was confirming, but he wouldn't pass on a chance to slime Rove even if it meant misleading his readers.

Closing thoughts - - -

Most of MSM, including the AP, keep telling us Plame was a “covert” CIA agent. But for more than five years before Novak disclosed her CIA employment, Plame drove to work from her Washington home to CIA headquarters in Langley, VA.

Request to the Democratic dominated MSM: Will you please investigate and report whether the CIA really lets its covert operatives commute to headquarters?

Wouldn’t that be strange and newsworthy even for an agency that bungles as much as the CIA?

Fournier's piece is here; Novak's is here.