Saturday, March 29, 2008

About American Newspapers (Post 1)

A reader responded to The life and death of the American newspaper posted today.

The reader’s comment follow in italics, with my interlinear comments in plain.

It is simple arithmetic.

According to Reuters here, five years ago The McClatchy News Company’s stock (symbol MNI) sold at about $60 per share.

McClatchy owns The Raleigh News & Observer.

Two years ago the N&O published a series of grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false reports about what it called “the Duke lacrosse rape scandal.” At the time, again using Reuters here, MNI sold at about $50. per share.

Reuters says MNI closed yesterday just below $11. per share.

On the record, McClatchy execs and N&O editors are very upbeat about MNI.

I guess that has something to do with "the arithmetic" they learn in J school.

Newspapers simply cannot continue to alienate half their readers and expect to reap the same profits as they did prior to their industry wide decision to be flacks for the left wing.

Your right on that. And liberal/leftist newspapers like the N&O don’t help themselves with informed people when they deny their news bias and launch advertising campaigns (at readers’ expense) touting themselves as “fair and accurate.”

Arrogance and hubris have destroyed American journalism and they don't even know it.

The arrogant attitude of many in American journalism has certainly been a major contributor to the low esteem and distrust most Americans have for our newspapers.

Your comment has given me an idea. I’ll run a five-part series starting Monday giving examples of the N&O’s arrogance.

The Associated Press, for example, continues to write news stories that are nothing more than opinion pieces.


AP now stands for Agenda Press.

But most news organizations won’t admit that. Bald face denial is part of their agenda.

Local newspapers purchase these [AP] stories and discredit themselves.

Well, yes. But most of them do plenty on their own to discredit themselves.

I'll bet you agree.

Circulation falls off.

It sure does.

But I’m betting that tomorrow when the N&O talks about it’s future, it will spin its circulation decline the past five years in the percent of population in its circulation area who subscribe or buy “at the rack.”

N&O executive editor for news John Drescher gave a very strong, if unintended, hint of that spin when he posted at the Editors’ Blog saying tomorrow he'd "describe our growth in readership (when print and online readers are combined)"

The real story here, though, is that newspaper editors remain clueless as to why all this is happening.

I think I know what you mean.

The N&O’s public editor Ted Vaden wants to bar readers from commenting if they don’t give their names. Many of those readers point out N&O errors.

Many of them say, to take just one example, that the N&O should retract and apologize for its deliberately fraudulent March 25, 2006 story which it told readers was about “sex crimes” and an “ordeal” a “victim” endured which “finally” ended in “sexual violence.”

But at the N&O, those readers are, in the words of its former executive editor for news Melanie Sill, just “people who want to bash us.”

Their professional lives continue to take place in a bubble while the bubble chorus continues pumping them up with lies. So sad.

Sad, indeed, but true.

Thank you to the Commenter.

Folks, I plan to say more tomorrow about American newspapers, particularly the N&O.

The death and life of the American newspaper

That’s the title of Eric Alterman’s Mar. 29 New Yorker article.

Here’s part of it, followed below the star line by brief comments.

[...]Few believe that newspapers in their current printed form will survive. Newspaper companies are losing advertisers, readers, market value, and, in some cases, their sense of mission at a pace that would have been barely imaginable just four years ago.

Bill Keller, the executive editor of the Times, said recently in a speech in London, “At places where editors and publishers gather, the mood these days is funereal. Editors ask one another, ‘How are you?,’ in that sober tone one employs with friends who have just emerged from rehab or a messy divorce.” Keller’s speech appeared on the Web site of its sponsor, the Guardian, under the headline “NOT DEAD YET.”

Perhaps not, but trends in circulation and advertising––the rise of the Internet, which has made the daily newspaper look slow and unresponsive; the advent of Craigslist, which is wiping out classified advertising––have created a palpable sense of doom.

Independent, publicly traded American newspapers have lost forty-two per cent of their market value in the past three years, according to the media entrepreneur Alan Mutter. Few corporations have been punished on Wall Street the way those who dare to invest in the newspaper business have.

The McClatchy Company [it owns The Raleigh News & Observer], which was the only company to bid on the Knight Ridder chain when, in 2005, it was put on the auction block, has surrendered more than eighty per cent of its stock value since making the $6.5-billion purchase. Lee Enterprises’ stock is down by three-quarters since it bought out the Pulitzer chain, the same year.

America’s most prized journalistic possessions are suddenly looking like corporate millstones. Rather than compete in an era of merciless transformation, the families that owned the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal sold off the majority of their holdings.

The New York Times Company has seen its stock decline by fifty-four per cent since the end of 2004, with much of the loss coming in the past year; in late February, an analyst at Deutsche Bank recommended that clients sell off their Times stock.

The Washington Post Company has avoided a similar fate only by rebranding itself an “education and media company”; its testing and prep company, Kaplan, now brings in at least half the company’s revenue. [...]

Alterman's article is here



Alterman provides a lot of useful, well-organized information.

But I don't think he's saying much that will be new to those of you who've been following the decline of major news organizations and the growth in number and quality of blogs as news, commentary and, yes, entertainment sources.

The major reason cited for MSM news organizations' declines in readers, viewers and revenue is competition from the "non-traditional" news sources. Alterman gives full weight to that.

But he doesn't, IMO, give proper weight to why the "non-traditional" competition has been so successful in attracting readers and now, with YouTube and the like, viewers.

Much of the "non-traditionals" success can be traced to this: their reporting, commentary and entertainment is often more truthful than what major news organizations frequently porvide.

Dan Rather, 60 Minutes and CBS gave us the Texas Air National Guard story and the assurance their anonymous document source was "unimpeachable." Bloggers exposed the documents as fraudulent and CBS' "unimpeachable" source as Bill Burket, Democratic Party activist and long-time Bush-hater.

The Raleigh News & Observer and much of MSM pumped the "Duke lacrossse rape scandal" media witch hunt and helped enable the frame-up attempt.

But from the first, citizen journalists, bloggers and a few outstanding individuals from traditional news organizations began exposing a very obviously false report of gang-rape and the injustices of those who sought to use the Duke Hoax for their own purposes.

And who has forgotten MSM's reporting on "the Jena 6?"

If it was left to traditional news organizations, what would we know today about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his close twenty year friendship and pastoring of Sen. Barack Obama?

It was mostly pressure from non-traditional news sources - I count Fox News among the "non-traditional" - which pushed the Wright-Obama relationship to the point MSM was forced to begin covering it.

Hat tip: To a journalist friend who put me on to Alterman's article

Obama gave the Chicago Trib a heads up

I invite you to look with me at parts of a Chicago Tribune story.

The entire Trib story is here. I also link to the story at the post’s end.

Excerpts from the Trib’s story are in italics; my comments are in plain.

As we look at the Trib story, bear in mind it appeared yesterday, Friday, Mar. 28, and therefore was “put to bed” sometime before deadline on Thursday, Mar. 27.

The Trib begins:

On the Sunday in 2003 when Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. shouted "God damn America" from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ, he defined damnation as God's way of holding humanity accountable for its actions.

Wright held “humanity accountable?”

What a surprise. I thought Wright was just holding Americans accountable.

Who knew he also included in “God damn America” the Chinese, Zambians, Swedes, and everyone else, even Hugo Chavez and Joseph Mugabe?

It's all news to me.

Ah, but then, what’s a newspaper for if not to give us news?

Rattling off a litany of injustices imposed on minorities throughout the nation's history, Wright argued that God cannot be expected to bless America as the anthem requests unless it changes for the better. Until that day, he said, God will hold the nation accountable.

Did Wright really rattle off a litany of injustices imposed on Irish, Jewish and Italian immigrant minorities?

Did he talk about the injustices, including lynching, imposed on Mormons?

Has Wright ever spoken out against the injustices Rev. Al Sharpton and his followers inflicted on the small Hasidic Jewish population in Brooklyn's Crown Heights?

And that's when Wright uttered the three infamous words that have rocked Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

For the Trib to say it’s “the three infamous words that have rocked” Obama’s campaign isn’t just minimizing to help a favored political candidate. It’s an outright deception.

The Trib knows what’s rocked Obama’s campaign is the totality of Wright’s racism and anti-Americanism over many years, combined with Obama never having until just recently condemned Wright or left his church.

That, and Obama’s unbelievable denials, blame-shifting and abrupt changes in position since the American people began learning about “the beloved” and “prophetic” Jeremiah Wright.

The Trib provided the false “three infamous words” script because of what was to follow in its story.

Not long after a Democratic front-runner emerged from the pews of Wright's church, the pastor's long-winded oratory found itself at odds with the sound-bite culture that feeds the 24-hour news cycle and YouTube. Thirty-second snippets of 30-minute sermons led pundits to question how Obama could remain a member of Wright's flock.

The rest of the Trib’s “anything for Obama” story is a rationalization, complete with quotes from “experts,” for “how Obama could remain a member of Wright's flock.”

Too bad for the Trib that on the same day its story appeared, Obama did a 180 and announced that if only he’d known about Wright’s screeds, he’d have left his church then and there.

If the Trib editors are upset with Obama, they shouldn't be. He gave them a heads up back when he said he was "the CHANGE candidate."

On the other hand, it is a little surprising to realize only a few days ago Obama was still talking about Wright’s “snippets” and how they fitted in with what you hear in “the black church.”

Here’s how, a little further along in its story, the Trib reported Obama’s pre-Friday, pre- “I would have left the church” position:

Obama has denounced Wright's most provocative remarks, but in a speech on race last week he defended Wright as a person and refused to disown him as his pastor.

Wright's preaching, which mixes theology with the often-troubled history of race relations in America, is in the "prophetic" tradition, one of many that have evolved in black pulpits.

Now what does the Trib want us to think of a presidential candidate who would disown his pastor simply because the pastor preached “in the ‘prophetic’ tradition, one of many that have evolved in the black pulpits?”

The entire Trib article is here.

The Churchill Series - Mar. 29, 2008

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

Two short items, today, both from William Manchester's biography Alone.I think they'll help start your weekend with a smile.

At the time of Neville Chamberlain's death, Churchill paid very generous tribute to him in the House of Commons. He also treats Chamberlain generously in his WWII history.

But at other times he wasn't so generous when describing Chamberlain, a former Lord Mayor of Birmingham.

Churchill once said: "Chamberlain looks at life through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe."

Late one evening Churchill was working in the library at Chartwell. A young scholar and a stenographer/typist who'd just joined his employ were with him. The scholar had prepared a research paper which Churchill would use as background for his Marlborough biography.

Churchill scanned the paper. He was dissatisfied, and made that clear to the young scholar in a series of caustic comments.

At a pause point, the stenographer/typist sought to break the tension with: "Oh, look outside. It's so dark."

Churchill turned, stared at her for a moment, and then said: "It generally is at night."

I hope you all have a very nice weekend. Here in central North Carolina the redbuds and dogwoods are blooming.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Duke attorneys lower bar and stumble

Attorney, Claremont Institute fellow and blogger Paul Mirengoff posts on Duke’s motion to suppress. I add a few comments below the star line.

Mirengoff begins - - -

Many of you probably know that 38 members of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team have filed a civil suit against Duke University, its president Richard Brodhead (yes, he's still Duke's president), the city of Durham, and others associated with the outrageous behavior directed at team members in connection with the bogus rape allegations.

The plaintiffs have established a web site that presents information about the case. It posts pleadings in the case and provides links to a press release about the case, certain media reports, and certain blogs operated by third parties.

Setting up this kind of website, and indeed ones that are much more aggressive, is a common thing for plaintiffs to do these days. It's been done in cases where I've represented the defendant. The more aggressive of these sites can be fairly amusing (if you're involved in the case) and occasionally provide material that can be turned against the plaintiffs.

I confess that it has never occurred to me to ask a court to shut such a site down. Lawyers should zealously represent their clients, but it rarely serves a client's interest to become a laughingstock.

Duke's lawyers, among whom are Clinton administration stalwarts Jamie Gorelick and Seth Waxman, apparently have no such qualms. They seek an order declaring, among other things, that the plaintiffs' website violates local rules against extrajudicial attorney statements.

Duke acknowledges that the material on the website either quotes or closely paraphrases the allegations contained in the plaintiffs' complaint. Duke also concedes that the material thus falls within the safe harbor provided by the local rules for attorney comments that convey information in a public record. However, Duke takes the position that the statements nonetheless violate the local rules because they are "incendiary."

Duke has no basis for reading into the local rule an exception for incendiary statements (or, in this case, statements it simply doesn't like). Moreover, such an exception likely would be unconstitutionally vague.

At one time, it might have been surprising for a higly-rated university to push for unconstitutional restrictions on free expression. But not anymore and certainly not in the case of an institution like Duke.

You can find the briefs filed by Duke in support of its motion here and here. The plaintiffs' response is here. The underlying complaint is here.



I’m not an attorney so most of the legal citations in the briefs are not items I can comment on.

But I can respond to Mirengoff’s statement: “Setting up this kind of website, and indeed ones that are much more aggressive, is a common thing for plaintiffs to do these days. It's been done in cases where I've represented the defendant.”

All the attorneys I’ve talked to agree with Mirengoff that setting up “this kind of website” is common practice today.

They also agree that the website Duke’s objecting to - – is not “aggressive.”

“Pretty tame, really more a kind of service because it mostly hosts case documents that are part of the public record,” is how one attorney viewed it.

After reading Mirangoff’s post and considering everything other attorneys have told me up through today regarding Duke’s request, I feel more strongly then ever that Duke’s motion is a stumble. ( Duke's Motion a Stumble, 3/2/08 )

I especially think Duke has stumbled because it claims the plaintiff’s lead attorney, Charles Cooper, violated the NC State Bar’s code of professional conduct.

That’s quite a charge for responsible attorneys to level against another attorney in a brief filed in federal court.

In the case of Cooper, Duke’s attorneys are leveling the charge against one of America’s best known and most respected attorneys.

What could have led Duke’s attorneys to do such a thing?

If their intent was only to get shut down, every attorney I’ve talked to says there were a number of other ways open to Duke to ask the court to do that without accusing Cooper of an ethics violation.

So why’d Duke do it?


For more on Duke's motion:

University of Maryland law professor and Duke alum Jason Trumpbour recently provided an extensive and highly critical assessment of Duke's motion. I quote from it and link to it here.

Hat tip: Ken in Dallas

What's the future of The N&O?

That’s the title of N&O executive editor for news John Drescher’s latest post at the Editors’ Blog. It follows in full, after which I provide a few comments below the star line.

Here’s Drescher’s post:

Newspapers are dying, right? Actually, a lot of them, including this one, have more readers than ever.

In Sunday’s Q, we write about what the future of The N&O might be. I describe our growth in readership (when print and online readers are combined). Publisher Orage Quarles III writes about the business challenges. N&O staffers discuss our top priorities for the year. Phil Meyer, a visionary UNC journalism professor who will be inducted Sunday into the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame, peers into the future.

Readers tell us what they like and don’t like about The N&O. Add your comments below.


I plan to leave a comment on the thread of Drescher’s post later today.
In the meantime, here are “highlights” from readers’ comments already there

Comment from: Fred Black [Visitor]
03/27/08 at 20:53
How do you account for those of us who are both print and online readers ?

Comment from: kbp [Visitor]
03/27/08 at 21:01
The truth comes to mind. I enjoy reading the truth, or criticizing those that do not report accurately.

One of my favorite reporters is a McClatchy employee in a different city. Ask Jack Weinstein if I email him praise often ( I'd pay a subscription online for the daily he works for.

Report the truth.
It's that simple.
I'd pay for the truth.

Comment from: JSwift [Visitor]
03/27/08 at 22:19

Many media organizations have shown an inability to admit their errors.

Dan Rather's use of forged documents provides perhaps the best example.
CNN admitted only after many years that it had regularly withheld news from Iraq critical of Saddam so that they could maintain their office in Bagdad.

The [Mar. 25, 2006 ] Khanna/Blythe article that ignited the media frenzy in what was finally exposed as the Duke frame omitted the word "alleged" several times, falsely claimed that it contained only information available in police reports, contradicted earlier stories in the N&O (just as the details of the accuser's arrest after her audition at a strip club years earlier), and withheld information for more than one year that would have cast doubts on her credibility.

Even today, the N&O continues to protect the source that set up this biased and inflammatory interview.

Many readers have asked the question: Who provided the tip that allowed the N&O to "scoop" the competition with this false account?

I echo kbp: report the truth.

Comment from: LTC8K6 [Visitor]
03/27/08 at 23:24

"Actually, a lot of them, including this one, have more readers then ever."

Perhaps more editors are needed...than ever.

Folks, while I agree with the commenters urging the N&O to report the truth on, among other stories, the Duke frame-up attempt and the ongoing cover-up of it, I doubt the N&O will do that.

Still, it’s important readers speak out. Even if the N&O ignores what you say, people coming to the Editors Blog will read it.

I hope many of you comment. You can do it on the thread here.

CNN tries its best for Obama

In a story published a few hours ago, CNN did its best to help Obama and his campaign staff manage the public anger concerning his failure to reject until recently the anti-Americanism and racism of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his close friend, mentor and pastor of almost 20 years.

Fist, excerpts from the CNN article, then my comments below the star line.

CNN begins - - -

Sen. Barack Obama says in an interview scheduled to air on TV Friday that he would have left his church if his pastor had not retired and had not acknowledged making comments that "deeply offended people."

Obama talked about the dispute as it continued to brew over some of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons and comments, which many viewed as anti-American and racist toward whites.

Bulletins from Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ in 2007 include comments -- reprinted from other sources -- that maintain South Africa and Israel worked on "an ethnic bomb that kills blacks and Arabs." They also quote a historian who said that "what the Zionist Jews did to the Palestinians is worse than what the Nazis did to the Jews."

The articles appeared in a church bulletin section called the "Pastor's Page," and include one that originally ran in The Los Angeles Times. That article was written by a senior official with Hamas, which the U.S. government considers a terrorist organization.

Obama denounced the articles this week, telling the Jerusalem Post that the church was "outrageously wrong" in reprinting the pieces.

"Had the reverend not retired and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying there at the church," the senator said.

Wright retired earlier this year, before events erupted.

Obama also said on the ABC talk show that he has spoken with Wright since the uproar over the pastor's comments.

"I think he's saddened by what's happened, and I told him I feel badly that he has been characterized just in this one way and people haven't seen the broader aspect of him," Obama said.

Mark Halperin of Time magazine told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday night that aides to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, believe the controversy will give their candidate an opening if Obama becomes the Democratic nominee.

"If you talk to McCain's people about it, they are -- choose your metaphor -- licking their chops," he said. "They believe that if this does not derail his chances of becoming the Democratic nominee, it will be invaluable to them in gaining support among key constituencies -- that's code for white voters -- in the general election."

Even so, polls show that Democrats believe that Obama has responded very well, CNN's Jessica Yellin reported. She cited a Thursday poll showing Obama with a 10-point lead over his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Yellin said polls showed that "Obama appeared to rise in Democrats' estimation after the controversy -- after he addressed the Wright controversy."

The entire CNN story is here.


As far as I know, this is the first story in which CNN has referred in its own text to Wright’s remarks as “anti-American and racist.” If it’s not the first, it’s certainly one of the few times.

That two weeks after the story broke through the MSM “filter” and became major news.

Still, CNN couldn’t bring itself to outright call the remarks anti-American and racist. It had to qualify with “which many viewed.”

And speaking of “which many viewed,” CNN’s use of “viewed” suggests the remarks are somehow “back then when.”

In fact, the outrage over Wright’s statements is not about how Americans “viewed” them but how we “view” them here and now.

Did you notice CNN didn’t raise the issue of why Obama is only saying now he would have left the church?

CNN says: “Wright retired earlier this year, before events erupted.”

That’s great fogging over for Obama. He must be grateful CNN didn’t say the obvious: “Wright retired earlier this year, before his screeds and other actions became front-page news and Obama was forced to explain why he’d never until now condemned Wright’s remarks or left his church.”

Final point: CNN talks about Dems and GOPers. Makes it all sound like just plain old politics.

But no mention by CNN of polls showing Independents by overwhelming margins say they’re deeply offended by Wright and less likely to vote for Obama as a consequence of his close association with him.

Also, they by large margins Independents report an unfavorable reaction to Obama’s speech which MSNBC’s Chris Matthews hailed as “the greatest” speech ever given on race/civil rights.

A+ to CNN for spinning for Obama.

Comments: up, down and out

I need to say a few things about comments at JinC.

First, for many weeks I’ve been using comment enabled. If you’re not familiar with it, it allows me to view each comment and decide to post or delete it.

Comment enabled explains the delay which sometimes occurs with your comments. Also, I’ve been having email trouble but that’s for another time.

I’ve deleted some comments – the outs.


Some are racist. I’ll repeat again something I said a month or so after the Duke lacrosse case broke and some commenters were directing racists comments at the players while others were directing racist comments at the accuser: there are plenty of sites where both groups can make racists remarks.

Something else while I’m on the subject: a person may be free to say something but that doesn’t mean I have to host it at my blog.

Everyone has so many blogs to choose from; but I can only moderate and delete here. So we can all be happy.

I’ve let a few comments through I shouldn’t have. Most of you can easily spot them. I’m sorry for my judgment errors. I’ll work to do better.

That said, the overwhelming majority of your comments are consistent with the standards here and add to this blog. I’ve said it before, but it always bears repeating: a lot of “the best” at JinC is on the comment threads.

I continue to be impressed by the willingness, intelligence and character which enables you to make civil, fact-based, thoughtful comments and avoid ad hominems and unnecessary put-downs.

I don’t want this to get too long; it is, after all, a blog, not school.

So I’ll end now but return a few times in the coming days to the matters of comments and criticisms.


The Churchill Series - Mar. 27, 2008

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

Churchill quite often delayed leaving for the train station. Early in speaking out against communism and fascism, where trains were concerned he was a classic "last minute" traveler.

When he was a cabinet minister or PM, and later when out of office but "a great man," Churchill's delays didn't cause him any problems. Staff simply phoned ahead and the train was held. No need to race.

But when out of office, Churchill frequently had to race to catch a train. And often he lost.

Clementine once explained Churchill's "last minute" habit this way: "Winston's a sporting man. He likes to give the train a chance."
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (p. 130)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

N&O hyped potbanger rally; didn't mention CASTRATE

On the right hand side of main page is a photo of a large “CASTRATE” banner around which Trinity Park “pot bangers” including some Duke faculty and students, Durham “activists,” and other hate-filled people rallied on March 26, 2006 at a house on N. Buchanan Blvd. They were threatening members of the Duke Men's lacrosse team and seeking to inflame public opinion against them.

Those who rallied around the “CASTRATE” banner believed with all the certainty of a lynch mob that a brutal gang-rape occurred just days before inside the house. They were demanding "swift, stern justice.”

The following day The Raleigh News & Observer reported on the event: “Rally calls for action at Duke.”

The N&O’s report described the crowd in sympathetic and supportive terms. It withheld any mention of the the CASTRATE” banner or an equally threatening one: GIVE THEM EQUEAL MEASURE. The N&O’s only mentioned any kind of signs once:

Attendees at the event Sunday criticized Duke for being too lenient on team members. Some protesters carried signs including one that read, "All rapes deserve outrage."
In subsequent stories referencing the “pot bangers” rally and similar hate-filled events in which threats were made against the players, the N&O continued to offer sympathetic and approving descriptions.

See, for example, this story by reporter Anne Blythe, who also co-reported the N&O’s biased and racially inflammatory March 24 and 25 stories telling readers Crystal Mangum was “the victim” and framing the Duke lacrosse team as her victimizers who included three brutal white rapists and their white teammates who were covering up for them.

With today being the 2nd Anniversary of the N&O’s report of the pot bangers hate fest, I decided to leave an email on the thread of a post at the N&O’s Editors’ Blog. It’s sent to executive editor for news John Drescher who two years ago was the N&O’s managing editor.


Dear Editor Drescher:

You praise people you call good news sources. Well, please be a good news source yourself for N&O readers and answer some questions many of us have been asking for quite a while.

As you know, on March 26, 2006 what has come to be called “the pot bangers” rally was held in Trinity Park in front of the house where the N&O reported “the victim” had been brutally gang-raped.

The rally crowd gathered around a large “CASTRATE” banner. has a photo on its main page and Joseph Neff mentioned the banner in his April 14, 2007 story, “Quest to convict hid a lack of evidence."

However, in the N&O's March 27, 2006 story reporting the “pot bangers” rally, there’s no mention of the “CASTRATE” banner.

In subsequent stories I looked at in which the N&O references the rally, I could find no mention of the “CASTRATE” banner.

Both of us know that lynchings often included castration of the victims, particularly if rape had been alleged.

We also know that people every bit as hate-filled as those that rallied on Sunday, 3/26/06, around the “CASTRATE” banner talk of castrating gay men.

I hope you agree, Editor Drescher, that it’s fair to say if groups targeting gays or blacks had rallied around a “CASTRATE” banner, the N&O would have reported prominently on such despicable actions.

You’d be right to do that so the community would know such people were in our midst and could plan to counter such despicable actions

But about the equally despicable actions of the Trinity Park “pot bangers” who targeted white, male Duke students with a "CASTRATE" banner, the N&O reported nothing for thirteen months.

Why? Why did the N&O wait until the players were declared innocent by the attorney general before reporting on the CASTRATE banner?

And why, as far as I can determine, have you never reported on the equally threatening GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE banner the “potbangers” hoisted?

I’ll print your response in full at JinC. If you decide to respond at the Editors’ Blog, I’ll comment and link to it.

Thank you.


John in Carolina

Rev. Wright cancels appearances. Why?

First, parts of a CNN story, then my comments below the star line.

From CNN - - -

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Sen. Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, has canceled his plans to speak at church services in Houston, Texas, this weekend in the wake of the recent uproar over portions of his past sermons. …

Wright was scheduled to speak at three services Sunday at Houston's Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. But the Rev. Marcus Cosby, the church's pastor, said Wright decided to cancel the appearances amid safety concerns. …

The church, Cosby said, had planned to take extra security precautions for Wright's services this weekend, but said the decision to cancel the appearances was Wright's entirely.

Cosby said his church had not received any threats directly ahead of Wright's scheduled appearances. …

Wright is also scheduled to make a stop in Dallas, Texas. A stop at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, however, was canceled Wednesday, according to the school.

Joan Harrell, the minister of communications for Wright's former church, told the Dallas Morning News the schedule is still pending, but would not elaborate.

Harrell has not yet returned CNN's request for further comment on Wright's schedule. …

The entire CNN story is here.


I doubt safety concerns explain the cancelled appearances or the uncertainty about other appearances.

I think what explains them is this: Rev. Wright and Sen. Obama’s campaign staff haven’t figured out a way to successfully talk around the hate-speech Wright’s engaged in over the years and just recently. Have you read the latest from Wright about Italians “with their garlic noses” and the U. S. government running the klan?

For all the denials, excusing and downplaying of Wright’s racism and anti-American by Obama supporters, including those at major news organizations, tens of millions of Americans are rightfully very angered by the hatred Wright preaches.

The Obama/MSM dodges - “they’re just snippets,” “out-of-context,” “beloved pastor,” “his generation,” and “the black church” - are working fine with Obama’s base. Most anything would.

But they’re not working, polls consistently show, with independents whose votes Obama must have to win the presidency.

So Wright’s holding off on public appearances for now until he and the Obama team can agree on what to “sell” to the American people and how to package it.

A great speech Obama didn't deliver

Victor Davis Hanson believes:

Had Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., just said the following words last week in his speech on race in America, his problems with his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, would probably now be over:

"You have all heard the racist and anti-American outbursts of my pastor Rev. Wright. They are all inexcusable. His speeches have forced me to re-examine my long association with Trinity United Church of Christ. And so it is with regret that I must now leave that church.

"I had heard similar extremist language of Rev. Wright in the past, and now apologize that I did not earlier end my attendance and contributions. Had I long ago expressed my strong objections to Rev. Wright's views, such opposition might have suggested to him a more moderate path.

"But any good that now might come by remaining steadfast to Rev. Wright in consideration of our long past friendship is outweighed by the damage that would accrue from the sanction of his extremism that my continued attendance at his church might convey.

"I have loyalty aplenty, but it is to the truth, my country and universal tolerance, not to any one friend, however long and close our association.

"Allegations that America helped to cause - and thus deserved - 9/11 and that the U.S. government engineered the AIDS epidemic, as well as the pastor's slurs against 'white people' and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, are not reflective of the views of mainstream black America and they have no place in any house of Christian worship.

"It would be easy to claim that Rev. Wright's biases are no different from those voiced on occasion by our own family members, our pastors or political leaders in the public eye and therefore not so injurious to America. That defense of false equivalence, that 'others do it all the time,' is a common one offered by those who offend the public sensibility.

"It would also be easy to excuse my pastor's outbursts by citing the long tragic history of the African American experience. After all, every extremist outburst always has a particular and perhaps mitigating context.

"And finally it would be easy to suggest that the special landscape of the black church allows a sort of venting and role-playing unlike other common venues in America. It has often been a refuge from white oppression and a place to make sense of the tragic history of race relations that plague us still. That, and the good that Rev. Wright has done, could also be an extenuating circumstance.

"But neither Pastor Wright nor I - a candidate for the presidency of the United States - can afford to find refuge in any of these relativist explanations. To do so would not merely exempt the statements of Rev. Wright from proper censure, but also would have the effect of offering endorsement to them. Here is why we must not and will not do that: "First, today's America has evolved into a multiracial society unlike anytime in our long history. Each of America's groups has unique grievances, based on their own past ordeals.

"So now more than ever in American history, there is need to establish a universal, absolute standard of public discourse in which no individual or group claims extenuating circumstances to demonize other Americans. Otherwise, the bar will have been lowered - and Rev. Wright will be followed by merchants of hate of every sort, each citing his allowance as a pass for his own hate speech.

"Second, we are in our fifth decade since the landmark civil-rights legislation of the 1960s. And while the African American community has made enormous strides, it still has not achieved parity with either the white majority or some other minorities. The reasons are complex, but they cannot be simply reduced to white racism or the purported pathologies of the United States, as Rev. Wright supposed. We African Americans must be as vigilant in demanding an equality of opportunity for all Americans, as in ensuring that crime, illegitimacy, drug use and the failure to finish high school are no higher in the African American community than in others.

"Third, Americans were appalled, as was I, at my minister cursing the United States. But we must always appreciate the unique nature of America, an experiment that unites a multiplicity of religions, races and ethnicities, and endures only to the degree we all adhere to a common set of values. We must never think that because the United States has sometimes not been perfect, it is not good.

"The hard work of creating and improving the United States required centuries; the easier task of tearing apart America can be done in a generation. But neither you nor I can or will allow that to happen. Thank you, and God bless the United States."



Hanson's written a great speech. It's just the kind of speech, IMO, a post-racial candidate would've wanted to deliver in Philadelphia a week ago Tuesday.

But Sen. Obama could not have delivered it without upsetting, even alienating, many of his supporters.

That’s why instead he delivered a speech in which he equated remarks his still living white grandmother made in private with Rev. Wright's public preaching of racial hatred and anti-Americanism.

And that’s why he attacked former Dem VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro for “injecting” race into the campaign as he delivered his speech which he and his aides took pains to say was not really about Wright but race in America.

And that, I believe, is why Obama has remained silent following remarks by his supporter and Senate colleague John Kerry that Obama is uniquely qualified to reach out to moderate Muslims “because he’s African-American, he’s a black man.”

Obama gave as his explanation/excuse for Wrights screeds "his generation."

That's baloney. Many black pastors of Wright's generation don't embrace the hatred and anti-Americanism he's spewed over the years and that led him to give a Lifetime Achievement Award to Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Obama’s use of "his generation" is an example of an identity-group excuse used where he should have acknowledged Wright's individual responsibility for what Obama called "snippets."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Churchill Series - Mar. 26, 2008

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

On July 18, 1919 Churchill, Secretary of State for War and Air, completed his day’s work at the ministry and then went to Croydon airfield on the edge of London for another flying lesson. He traveled with a WW I air ace, Colonel Jack Scott, his flying instructor. After the lesson Churchill was scheduled to return to Parliament where he would host a dinner in honor of General John J. Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Force.

Clementine and many friends had been urging Churchill to stop taking flying lessons. Piloting was a risky business in those days; already Churchill had had a number of close calls. But he was determined to earn his license and conquer a fear of flying.

Once at Croydon, Churchill and Scott climbed into a plane with dual controls. Churchill’s biographer, Martin Gilbert, tells us what happened next:

Churchill took the machine off the ground himself, but when he had risen to seventy or eight feet the aeroplane began to lose speed, and to fall.

Scott took over the controls but could do nothing. “We were scarcely ninety foot above the ground above the ground,” Churchill later recalled, “just the normal height for the usual side-slip fatal accident, the commonest of all”

The aeroplane fell swiftly downward. “I saw the sunlit aerodrome close beneath me, and the impression flashed through my mind that is was bathed in a baleful yellowish glare. Then in another flash a definite thought formed in my brain, 'this is very likely Death.'"…

The aeroplane struck the ground. Churchill was thrown forward but his safety belt held him: it broke only when the force of the crash was over. Streams of petrol vapour rushed past him from the engine, but in the few seconds before the aeroplane hit the ground, Scott had managed to switch off the engine, preventing an explosion.

Churchill was safe but bruised. Scott, knocked unconscious, soon recovered.
Gilbert later tells us
Although (Churchill) would never obtains a pilot’s license, Clementine would have peace of mind.
In time Churchill conquered his fear of flying, even reaching a point where he would often sleep for hours during long flights.
Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life. (pgs. 412-414)

More from Obama’s “beloved pastor”

This time it’s Italians reports:

Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago where Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been a member for two decades, slurred Italians in a piece published in the most recent issue of Trumpet Newsmagazine.

"(Jesus') enemies had their opinion about Him," Wright wrote in a eulogy of the late scholar Asa Hilliard in the November/December 2007 issue. "The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans."

Wright continued, "From the circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth (in a barn in a township that was under the Apartheid Roman government that said his daddy had to be in), up to and including the circumstances surrounding Jesus' death on a cross, a Roman cross, public lynching Italian style. ...

"He refused to be defined by others and Dr. Asa Hilliard also refused to be defined by others. The government runs everything from the White House to the schoolhouse, from the Capitol to the Klan, white supremacy is clearly in charge, but Asa, like Jesus, refused to be defined by an oppressive government because Asa got his identity from an Omnipotent God." ...
Have you noticed that no matter who else Rev. Wright is attacking - Jews, Italians, whomever – he always manages to spew some hate at America and white people?

Sen. Obama and his MSM flacks tell us Wright's hate rants are really just “snippets.”

Sure, and we're told the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon weren't really all that big.?

Besides, according to Rev. Wright and many other liberals and leftists, we had them coming.

The entire CNS story is here.

N&O editors’ false “police report” claims

Two years ago yesterday the Raleigh News & Observer produced a story that captured national and international attention. The story shilled the deliberately fraudulent Duke lacrosse frame-up script which two days later then Durham DA Mike Nifong used when he began speaking publicly about what was then called "the Duke lacrosse rape scandal."

The N&O’s March 25, 2006 fiction told readers a young black mother and college student had suffered a horrific ordeal, including beating and gang-rape, by three white members of the Duke lacrosse team as their hooligan, white racist teammates stood by, did nothing and subsequently stonewalled police investigators. The story’s headlines:

Dancer gives details of ordeal

A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence
The N&O blared those headline across five columns on it front-page and with no “alleged” or “alleges” or quotation marks to suggest the fiction was anything other than a news report of confirmed events.

From the moment they read it, many readers sensed the story was a fraud. They inundated the N&O with phone call, letters and comments at the N&O's Editors' Blog questioning reporters Anne Blythe’s and Samiha Khanna’s story.

The most frequently asked questions concerned what corroboration and what limits the N&O used during an interview with the accuser to whom the N&O said it had granted anonymity because of its policy of granting anonymity “to victims of sex crimes.”

N&O editors assured readers that for corroboration and to set limits on what the accuser said which it would publish, the N&O relied on the contents of the police report(s)

Here’s then N&O executive editor for news Melanie Sill commenting to readers at the Editors’ Blog on Apr. 3, 2006 [excerpt]:
We took care in editing the story not to introduce new accusations -- the basics were the same as in police reports, which had already been made public.
Also on Apr. 3, 2006 this from the column of N&O public editor Ted Vaden, who the N&O describes as "the readers advocate:”
But let's talk more about the anonymous interview. [The lead editor on the March 25 story Linda Williams] said editors and the reporter discussed the fairness issue at length before interviewing the woman and publishing the story. The governing decision, she said, was to print only information from the interview that conformed with the police reports. "We limited for publication the statements from the woman that were in line with what she said in the police report," Williams said. Other information from the interview has not been published. …

In this case, as Williams pointed out, the story used only information from the interview that corroborated the public record, so it didn't add new facts. The added matter was the emotional content -- the crying mother of two -- that gave a human dimension to the police reports. … (It's not true "the story used only information from the interview that corroborated the public record." I’ll get to that later in the post. JinC )
And here six months later is then deputy managing editor Linda Williams (since promoted to senior editor) commenting to readers at the Editors' Blog [excerpts]:
Our March 25 article that included an interview with the woman who accused Duke lacrosse players of rape has been the subject of questions and speculation on blog posts. […]

The decision made prior to the March interview to limit it to the information in the police report was the correct decision and I stand by it. Our purpose was to hear from the woman in her own words the accusation she made to the police. (sic)

We also wanted to know if she would say anything that contradict (sic) the police report. In the brief interview, she repeated the information we knew to be the gist of the police report that we had access to at that time.
But the assurances editors Sill, Vaden and Williams’ each repeatedly gave readers are false.

The N&O published a number of critically important statements by and concerning the accuser which were never part of any police report, as editors Sill, Vaden and Williams know.

Here’s the start of the N&O’s Mar. 25 story:
The woman who says she was raped last week by three members of the Duke University lacrosse team thought she would be dancing for five men at a bachelor party, she said Friday. But when she arrived that night, she found herself surrounded by more than 40.

Just moments after she and another exotic dancer started to perform, she said, men in the house started barking racial slurs. The two women, both black, stopped dancing.

"We started to cry," she said. "We were so scared."[…]
There was and is no Durham Police report suggesting “men in the house started barking racial slurs” at the woman.

Everyone other than the accuser who was in the house during the time in question, including Kim Roberts, the second dancer, insists there was no racial slurring within the house.

The N&O reported:
This was the first time she had been hired to dance provocatively for a group, she said.
No police report ever made that claim. As early as the morning of March 14 when crystal Mangum first made her wildly improbable and conflicting gang-rape and robbery claims, DUPD and DPD knew she had a long history as a strip dancer at men’s clubs.

So did the N&O which as far back as June 2002 had reported on a car-jacking Mangum had committed when she stole keys from a guy at a men’s club where she was lap dancing.

For reasons its never explained, the N&O failed to report that highly pertinent news for weeks and instead reported the lie Mangum was new to strip dancing and telling trusting readers they’d gotten that information from "a police report.”

In the March 25 story the N&O also reported:
She hesitated to tell police what happened, she said Friday. She realized she had to, for her young daughter and her father.

"My father came to see me in the hospital," she said. "I knew if I didn't report it that he would have that hurt forever, knowing that someone hurt his baby and got away with it."
But her father never came to see her in the hospital and police reports from March 14 stated she made her first claims of rape at Durham Access before she even arrived at Duke Hospital.

I’ve just sent the following email to Ted Vaden.

Dear Ted:

This post documents the falsity of assurances you, Melanie Sill and Linda Williams gave readers that you only published on March 25, 2006 statements of Mangum’s which were already contained in the police report(s).

The post also references the N&O’s decision to withhold for weeks the news you had from 2002 which undercut the N&O’s report that “this was the first time she’d been hired to dance provocatively for a group.”

Given what I document in the post and so much more I and others have documented that false in the March 25 story, would you be willing to do four things as the readers advocate:

1) Write a column urging the N&O to retract the story.

2) Urge the N&O publisher and senior editors to make apologies to the players, their families and the Presslers.

3) Urge executive editor for news John Drescher and senior editor Linda Williams to publish a story explaining in detail how the N&O got so much wrong in the March 25 story and what has been done to assure that such a error-filled story won’t be published again.

4) Urge the N&O to apologize to readers and other journalists who were misled.

Thank you for your attention to this request. I’ll publish your response in full at JinC.



Losing pol reporters: good or bad or so what?

Excerpts froma a NY Times article, after which my comments follow below the star line.

The NYT begins - - -

As Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama debated in Cleveland on a snowy evening in late February, 650 journalists descended on the city to follow every jab and parry, albeit on enormous televisions in two makeshift filing centers.

But early the next morning, as the two candidates set off for engagements across Ohio and Texas, representatives of only two dozen or so news organizations tagged along.

For most of the others, the price of admission — more than $2,000 for just one person to travel on Mr. Obama’s charter flights that day — was too steep, in an era in which newspapers in particular are slashing costs and paring staff, and with no end in sight to a primary campaign that began more than a year ago.

Among the newspapers that have chosen not to dispatch reporters to cover the two leading Democratic candidates on a regular basis are USA Today, the nation’s largest paper, as well as The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Baltimore Sun, The Miami Herald and The Philadelphia Inquirer (at least until the Pennsylvania primary, on April 22, began to loom large).

Traveling campaign reporters say they try to do more than just regurgitate raw information or spoon-fed news of the day, which anyone who watches speeches on YouTube can do. The best of them track the evolution and growth (or lack thereof) of candidates; spot pandering and inconsistencies or dishonesty; and get a measure of the candidate that could be useful should he or she become president.

Deep and thoughtful reporting is also being produced by journalists off the trail. And some news organizations that can afford it are doing both. But the absence of some newspapers on the trail suggests not only that readers are being exposed to fewer perspectives drawn from shoe-leather reporting, but also that fewer reporters will arrive at the White House in January with the experience that editors have typically required to cover a president on Day 1. ...

The entire Times story is here.


You can do a fine job reporting a presidential campaign with three or four dozen very smart, experienced, honest, non-partisan and politically knowledgeable reporters who have a deep appreciation for both what makes this country great and its importance to the survival of some kind of a civilized world.

That would certainly be better than what we have now - hundreds, some days thousands of reporters covering the campaign - almost all of whom are producing something mediocre, often partisan and a lot like the stories the other journalists around them are producing.

It's no surprise about the similarity among stories. Most pol reporters go with "the flow" and the campaign's talking points. Some who want to get a scoop will pester the campaign press office to tell him/her what the points will be so they can "prepare" their story.

Last week did you see the clips of the NYT's Elizabeth Bumiller badgering Sen. McCain about meetings he had four or more years ago with Sen. Kerry during which the vice-presidency was discussed.

McCain said he’d answered the questions repeatedly; but that didn’t satisfy Bumiller.

Today we know why she was badgering McCain. The NYT recycled the four year old story and ran it yesterday.

Meanwhile, you have Sen. Obama supporter Sen Kerry making important, politically controversial remarks caught on video tape during an interview Kerry had with the New Bedford Standard.

Kerry claimed Obama could reach out to moderate Muslims “because he’s an African-America, he’s a black man.” That will be big news to Muslims; American's should know about it too.

Kerry’s statement about the “post-racialist” Obama was made just a few days after Obama had castigated former Dem V-P candidate Geraldine Ferraro for what he said was injecting race into the campaign.

You can read much more about Kerry’s remarks and access the video here. Judge Kerry's remarks for yourself if you haven't already done so.

With hundreds of reporters covering the three candidates, the Kerry news story has not broken through the MSM “filter.”

But a few honest, non-partisan reporters at the major networks and newspapers asking Obama, Clinton and their top aides about it would “get the story out there.

Your turn.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Churchill Series - Mar. 25, 2008

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

Churchill’s official biographer, Martin Gilbert, reflects one of the most important aspects of Churchill’s war leadership:

From the outset of the fighting , when he was First Lord of the Admiralty and a member of Chamberlain’s War Cabinet, he was able to convey to the British public something they overwhelmingly felt within themselves: that it was a just war, a war being fought against evil.

Even earlier, at the height of the pre-war debate about whether Nazi Germany could, or should, be appeased, Churchill had understood, and conveyed, that what was at stake was the survival of humane values. “War is terrible, “ he had written on 7 January 1939, “but slavery is worse.”

From the first months of Nazi rule in Germany, Churchill has spoken out in the House of Commons against the racism of the new regime and the cruel nature of Nazi anti-Semitism. He had argued in 1938 that any appeasement of Germany was a sign not only of British military weakness but also of moral weakness, and that, sooner or later – “and most probably sooner” – both would have to be redressed, since the object of appeasement – to satisfy Hitler by acceding to his territorial demands – would only encourage more and more demands.

Martin Gilbert, Continue to Pester, Nag and Bite. (pg. 39-40)

What are the Dems doing now?

Blog friend Mike Williams sends along an update on recent activities of some leading Democrats. I add a few comments below the star line.

Mike begins - - -

Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s recent resignation spared him the humiliation of impeachment but, as John in Carolina reported, it may not keep him out of the dock on a number of felony indictments.

His replacement, Lt. Gov. David Paterson, has been in office barely a week, and already we know more than we probably ever wanted to about his philandering and drug abuse. Being a Democrat, these probably wouldn’t threaten Paterson’s political career unless they were tied to public malfeasance. However:

As the Gov. Paterson escapade continues, it is now becoming apparent that Paterson not only mis-spent campaign funds, but as Lt. Governor he used a state credit card to pay for hotels and bar tabs all around Albany more then a dozen times, and as recently as February 2008. Here is the rub, HE ONLY LIVES 11 MILES FROM THE CAPITOL BUILDING!

Paterson claims that he had to stay in the hotels, because the Governor needed him early in the morning or late at night. In a statement issued yesterday, Paterson said; "I had to be at the call of the governor. And a few times I was asked to do a few things early on, and I was too far away." He said he stayed at hotels when he had "early morning meetings or press conferences" in order to "accommodate" Governor Spitzer.

A former top aide to then Governor Spitzer disputes this statement….

In national political news, Sen. Clinton admits to having padded her résumé:
As part of her argument that she has the best experience and instincts to deal with a sudden crisis as president, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton recently offered a vivid description of having to run across a tarmac to avoid sniper fire after landing in Bosnia as first lady in 1996.

Yet on Monday, Clinton admitted that she had "misspoke" about the episode -- a concession that came after CBS News showed footage of her walking calmly across the tarmac with her daughter, Chelsea, and being greeted by dignitaries and a child….

Power Line’s John Hinderaker on Clinton’s exposure as a fabulist: “It Lacked the Added Virtue of Being True.” Professor Ann Althouse was more direct: “What, are you going to say she lied?”



First, nice job and thank you, Mike. We're all always interested in keeping up with the activities of the leaders of "the party of the people."

Please let us know if there's any talk at the NY Times about a "culture of corruption" involving the Times' party leaders in New York.

And try to find out how the Times, which works so hard to find and publish America's national security secrets, missed everything we've been learning about Spitzer's and Paterson's loathsome activities.

Folks, if you don't know Ann Althouse, she's a law professor at the University of Wisconsin's School of Law and a fine blogger who wasn't really surprised Sen. Clinton lied.

Who is?

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Churchill Series - Mar. 24, 2008

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

It is 1896, the fifty-ninth year of Victoria’s reign. Twenty-one year old Lieutenant Churchill is serving with his regiment in Bangalore, India. His intellectual curiosity, mostly dormant during his student days, has suddenly become active and intense. He’s anxious to learn all he can about the people and ideas that form our Western heritage.

In My Early Life, an autobiography of his first twenty-seven years which Churchill wrote when in his fifties, he looks back to that time in Bangalore; and tells us about something the young lieutenant discovered as he opened his mind to inquiry and reflection:

Then someone had used the phrase “the Socratic method.”

What was that?

It was apparently a way of giving your friend his head in an argument and progging him into a pit by cunning questions.

Who was Socrates, anyhow?

A very argumentative Greek who had a nagging wife and was finally compelled to commit suicide because he was a nuisance!

Still, he was beyond doubt a considerable person. He counted for a lot in the minds of learned people.

I wanted “the Socrates story.” Why had his fame lasted through all the ages? What were the stresses which had led a government to put him to death merely because of the things he said?

Dire stresses they must have been: the life of the Athenian Executive or the life of this talkative professor! Such antagonisms do not spring from petty issues.

Evidently Socrates had called something into being long ago which was very explosive. Intellectual dynamite! A moral bomb!

But there was nothing about it in The Queen’s Regulations.
In February 1901 Churchill took his seat in the House of Commons for the first time. He remainded a member for all but a few years of the rest of his life.

In Commons, after a bill is introduced, members rise to ask and debate questions. We recognize such proceedings as the method of “this talkative professor” the young lieutenant met in Bangalore.
Winston Churchill, My Early Life. (pgs. 107-111)

Regular disputes Brodhead rating; JinC reaches out

Today in Two very different university presidents ol' JinC said Duke's President Richard ( "the facts kept changing") Brodhead is at best a second-rate university president.

At the time, it seemed like a non-controversial rating.

I mean, not even Duke's trustees, having settled a number of suits and still finding themselves defendants in two major civil rights violations suits stemming from "Dick's leadership" during an obvious criminal attempt to frame Duke students, believe Brodhead is anything other than at best second-rate.

If there's a trustee who thinks otherwise, someone needs to remind that trustee it wasn't too long ago that President Terry Sanford led Duke University.

That said, I turn to a comment by JinC Regular Jack in Silver Spring. He's challenged my rating as too generous. Here's Jack's comment:

John - To call Brodhead "second rate" is to give those who are second rate a bad name. Brodhead is unworthy of any rating.

Jack in Silver Spring
I can't agree.

But I hate to fuss with Regulars; they're such fine people.

So I've looked for a way to reach out to Jack.

And I think I've found it.

Dear Jack,

You say President Brodhead "is unworthy of any rating."

Please take a look below the star line at a JinC post from June 2007.

I'm confident you'll agree Brodhead deserved the Sheldon Award committee's rating.

I look forward to your response and those of other readers.




Brodhead Wins Sheldon Award

JinC News has just learned Duke University’s President, Richard (“Whatever they did was bad enough”) Brodhead, is this year's Sheldon Award winner. The Sheldon is awarded annually to the university or college president selected as America’s worst.

From The New York Sun:
“[t]he award is a statuette that looks something like the Oscar, except the Oscar features a man with no face looking straight ahead, whereas the Sheldon shows a man with no spine looking the other way.
Many other feckless, left-leaning and whinny higher ed presidents provided tough competition.

But according to Sheldon Award chair and sole selection committee member John Leo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, the ultimate selection was an easy one: Brodhead was clearly the worst of this year’s nominees.

Leo explained in his NY Sun column:
[Here] is what Mr. Brodhead did: On hearing the first reports, he abruptly canceled the lacrosse season, suspended the two players named in the case, and fired the lacrosse coach of 16 years, giving him less than a day to get out.

This helped create the impression that the players were guilty.

His long letter to the campus on April 20 did the same thing. He didn't say the boys were guilty, but he talked passionately about the coercion and assault of women, the legacy of racism, and privilege and inequality — all of which fed the anger aimed at the lacrosse team.

Mr. Brodhead did nothing to deter the tsunami whipped up against the players by some students and the Group of 88, an alliance of mostly radical race and gender professors.

One of the looniest of the 88, Houston Baker, answered a polite and worried letter from one of the lacrosse moms by calling her "the mother of a farm animal."

Without any comment from Mr. Brodhead, the protesters issued death threats, carried banners that said "castrate," featured photos of lacrosse players on "Wanted" fliers, and banged pots outside the boys' residences in the early morning hours to disturb their sleep.

A word from the president about leaving the boys alone and guaranteeing them a fair trial would have been nice.

Like Mr. Brodhead, the Group of 88 did not quite call the players guilty, but praised the campus protestors for "shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman."

No comment about that from Mr. Brodhead and no comment from him on Mr. Nifong for nine months.

An engineering professor at Duke said, "There never was a clear sense that the students were innocent until proven guilty."

Congratulations Richard Brodhead, Sheldon laureate 2007. And you should resign.
I’ll be saying more about Brodhead’s well-deserved Sheldon recognition but right now I want to get the news out to you because John Burness and his people at Duke News haven’t yet issued a statement concerning this latest recognition of the kind of leadership Brodhead’s providing Duke.

You can read John Leo’s NY Sun Sheldon column here. I think you’ll agree that while the other Sheldon nominees deserved consideration, Brodhead was clearly the worst of the lot.

N&O editor: “my color” disturbs readers

The other day at the Raleigh News & Observer’s Editors’ Blog, Senior Editor Linda Williams responded to readers critical of her and the N&O for, among other reasons, the N&O’s grossly biased, racially inflammatory and often false reporting of the Duke lacrosse frame-up attempt.

Here’s part of what Williams, the lead editor on the most notorious of the N&O’s Duke lacrosse framing stories, its Mar. 25, 2006 story it told readers was about a woman’s “ordeal” which ended finally in “sexual violence,” said to readers [on thread here on 3/14 @ 18:56]:

… Many people commenting here seem to be merely taking an opportunity to express their own considerable racial anxieties. It's obvious that some find the color of my skin disturbing and have concluded that my color is all the information they need to determine what I think and my motivations. It seems more important to them to address my color than my words. …
Williams ended her post with this:
Those of you who just want to continue the racial rant, have at it.
I’ve just left the following response further down the thread.

Dear Editor Williams:

Like most N&O readers I know and judging from their comments at the Editors’ Blog and other blogs, I don’t care about your skin color.

But, like so many other readers, I do care that in its Mar. 24, 2006 story - the first news story to report all 46 white members of the Duke Men’s lacrosse team were suspects in an investigation of a woman’s charges of gang rape and other crimes - the N&O seven times referred to the woman as “the victim” or with the possessive “victim’s,” never once using a qualifier such as “alleged.”

Why did the N&O decide to dispense with its practice in such cases of using a qualifier and instead repeatedly tell readers the woman was “a victim?”

You must have had a very strong reason for doing that.

And by reason I don’t mean something like: “We did that, John, because we wanted the public to believe the woman was the victim and that the players were her victimizers.”

Everyone knows that, Editor Williams.

What we want to know is why did the N&O decide to do that?

We know there wasn’t just one person who worked on that story. Two reporters – Anne Blythe and Samiha Khanna – were bylined on the story and a number of editors worked on it.

It was a front-page story. Former executive editor for news Melanie Sill explained in other EB posts that those stories are carefully reviewed and discussed by a group of senior editors as well as a special front-page editor.

Why did a group of journalists at the N&O decide to frame the Duke students as criminal victimizers and tell readers Crystal Mangum was the victim?

And were any of them ever reprimanded or discharged?

Why hasn’t the N&O attached a correction to the story you published two years ago today?

Finally this, Editor Williams: There are many N&O readers of every race who wish you’d stop using your skin color as an excuse for not answering fair, important and fact-based questions.


John in Carolina

Two very different university presidents

First, extracts from a WSJ editorial praising recently retired University of Colorado President Hank Brown. Then, below the star line, my comments concerning Duke University’s support for its President Richard Brodhead.

From the WSJ - - -

The modern academy is notoriously immune from accountability, as Larry Summers so painfully learned at Harvard. So it is worth noting, and applauding, the achievements of Hank Brown, the best college president you've never heard of, who retired this month from the University of Colorado.

Mr. Brown took over as interim president in April 2005 when the school of 50,000 was in turmoil. This was a couple of months after CU professor Ward Churchill had become infamous, and a year after the school's athletic department was accused of offering alcohol and sex to recruit football players. A former U.S. Senator, Mr. Brown was reappointed in 2006 in a permanent capacity.

The public was outraged over Mr. Churchill's statements -- including that the 9/11 victims were not "innocent" but a "technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire" driving the "mighty engine of profit to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved." The public anger reminded politicians, and even a few academics, that public universities should be answerable to taxpayers.

Mr. Brown proceeded to oversee a complete examination of Mr. Churchill's work, and the ethnic studies professor was eventually fired because of fraudulent scholarship, not his politics.

Mr. Brown then initiated a complete review of CU's tenure policies, making it easier for his successors to get rid of deadwood. He also took on the equally sensitive subject of grade inflation, insisting that the university disclose student class rank on transcripts. If a B average puts a student at the bottom of his class, future employers will know it.

Frederick Hess, who researches higher education at the American Enterprise Institute, says there may be plenty of other people who know how to fix a university. But the reason there are so few Hank Browns goes back to Machiavelli. "When a leader tries to wrestle with these things," Mr. Hess notes, "there are influential constituencies that he upsets. It's much easier to manage the status quo than to enforce change."

Hank Brown may have upset some students and faculty, but he built support elsewhere, such as among the university's board of regents. He long ago saw the importance of active trustees to improving higher education.

In 1995, he and Senator Joe Lieberman wrote in Roll Call newspaper that "campus political pressures often make it difficult for those on campus to defend academic freedom." During his CU presidency, Mr. Brown got the regents to support his policies and even to adopt a statement encouraging greater intellectual diversity on campus. …

There’s much more to the editorial, including discussion of Brown’s management of the major scandal he inherited involving the CU Athletic Department. The entire editorial's here.



The WSJ editorial left me admiring President Brown, but mostly thinking about President Brodhead and his supporters at Duke.

What I hear most often now from Brodhead’s supporters are statements like “No one could have done better in the circumstances” and “Brodhead’s right. It was a confusing time. He’s done his best and shouldn’t be held responsible.”

Brodhead works to give credence to those statements. The best known example of that is his Oct. 2006 60 Minutes interview with the late Ed Bradley.

With three former Duke students still under indictment in what was an obvious frame-up attempt, Brodhead spoke at length and with feeling about what a difficult ordeal he’d been through.

Do you recall Duke’s President telling a disbelieving Bradley how hard Spring 2006 had been for him because, among other things, “the facts kept changing?”

I can’t imagine Brown in similar circumstances whining for himself. Can you?

And I can’t imagine Brown standing by and saying nothing while many in the media trashed Colorado University sports teams the way Duke’s 2006 Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams were trashed; or remaining silent while a corrupt DA, many Colorado faculty, certain Boulder Police officers and “community activists” inflamed public sentiment, thereby endangering Colorado students.

If such was the best Brown could do, would the Colorado Regents have given Brown a public standing ovation as Duke’s trustees gave Brodhead last September?

If we agree Brown was a first-rate university president, the best we can say for Brodhead is he’s second-rate.

Duke deserves better.

Kerry’s “Because he’s a black man:” where’s the reporting?

When Sen. John Kerry was asked by the New Bedford Standard what qualified Sen. Barack Obama to reach out to moderate Muslims, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee didn’t hasitate: “Because he’s an African-American. Because he’s a black man.” The video tape is here.

I’ve posted twice on the story here and here.

Kerry had a lot more to say in the interview. James Taranto at WSJ/ Best of the Web Today reports and comments, after which I comment below the star line.

Taranto says - - -

Remember John Kerry? He was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, lauded by his supporters for his intellect and his nuance, as compared with the simpleminded George W. Bush.

Having lost the election, he decided to sit out the 2008 contest. He recently endorsed Barack Obama, and earlier this week he sat down with the editorial board of the Standard-Times (New Bedford, Mass.) to make the case for his candidate.
It's a real jaw-dropper. ABC News's Jake Tapper sums it up:

Kerry said that a President Obama would help the US, in relations with Muslim countries, "in some cases go around their dictator leaders to the people and inspire the people in ways that we can't otherwise."

"He has the ability to help us bridge the divide of religious extremism," Kerry said. "To maybe even give power to moderate Islam to be able to stand up against this radical misinterpretation of a legitimate religion."

Kerry was asked what gives Obama that credibility.

"Because he's African-American. Because he's a black man. Who has come from a place of oppression and repression through the years in our own country."

An African-American president would be "a symbol of empowerment" for those who have been disenfranchised around the world, Kerry said, "an important lesson for America to show Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, other places in the world where disenfranchised people don't get anything."
One obvious question: What do the events of this week, involving Obama's own church, tell us about his ability to "stand up against" a "radical misinterpretation of a legitimate religion"?

Nothing very encouraging in this columnist's view, but many observers view Obama much more charitably in this regard than we do.

What is really striking about Kerry's case for Obama, though, is that it rests on what may be the crudest stereotyping we have ever observed. Commentary's Abe Greenwald has a chuckle over Kerry's racial stereotyping of Obama:
Where is this "place of oppression and repression" in which Obama has suffered "through the years"? Hawaii? Harvard? The Senate? We should find out immediately and do something about this horrific crisis.
But Kerry isn't just stereotyping blacks. He is stereotyping Muslims too. And he is drawing an equivalence between American blacks, a racial minority in one country, and Middle Eastern Muslims, a religious majority in a whole region.

Never mind that, as Greenwald points out, "Arab Muslims [are] none too happy with their black countrymen in northern Africa." Never mind that in some African countries, notably Sudan and Mauritania, Arab Muslims still enslave blacks.

To Kerry, it seems, all "oppressed peoples" look alike. The man has all the intellectual subtlety of a third-rate ethnic studies professor.


A week after Kerry made remarks which can only be called extraordinary and extremely controversial, and with a video with excellent audio available to them, most major news organizations have decided not to report the story.

Their failure to report gives you an idea of the intensity of their partisanship.

News organizations such as the NY and LA Times, and the Washington Post are putting their allegiances to the liberal Obama and the Democratic Party ahead of what they tout as “our responsibility to our readers.”

Most of MSM’s news suppression of the Kerry story is one more example Americans can cite when pollsters ask them why they don’t trust MSM to report the news fairly and accurately.

I’ll keep following this story. A google search reveals its getting a little play in a few papers (this Boston Herald column, for example) and by some talk radio hosts (Rush Limbaugh here, for example).

Perhaps there’ll be enough “push” from those sources to force the MSM to give the story the reporting it deserves.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

InsiderAdvantage’s outstanding poll report

Yesterday, when I reported on InsiderAdvantage’s poll findings and report of reaction to Sen. Barack Obama’s speech in Philadelphia Tuesday ( Obama's speech: some interesting poll results ), I said I’d say some more about the quality of InsiderAdvantage's report.

Compared to most polling results reports, InsiderAdvantage’s report is outstanding for its explanation of how it gathered data and its thoughtful, dare I say nuanced, discussion of its results.

Here are portions of the report, followed by my comments below the star line.

… It’s easy to read too much into this poll. In the long-term, Obama’s speech about the racially insensitive political and social views of Rev. Wright may come to its final resting place in history books for being a signal moment in America’s tortured story of race relations. But in the short-attention-span theatre of a heated presidential race, it may amount to little more than a loud blip in an ever-fluxing news cycle.

Even so, the poll displays no numbers flattering to Obama. Most startling is that blacks by 56% to 31% said the speech made them less likely to vote for him.

That may be because Obama had some gutsy perspectives on blacks as well as on whites, and black observers of the speech may have been annoyed. But it’s hard to imagine that there’s going to be an appreciable retreat by blacks from the Obama column.

Democrats disapproved 48% to 28%, which looks sobering for Obama on first glance, but might portend otherwise. If blacks irritated by Obama’s remarks will return to the fold, than impressing whites is probably a more vital read on the numbers. And Democratic whites were more sympathetic with the speech’s message than black ones.

The disturbing numbers for Obama are the independent voters. By 56% to 13%, they said they’re less likely to vote for him because of the speech. …

“Doubtless many formed their opinions not on the speech itself, but on reports of it filtered through their favorite news media outlets. So intended or unintended biases of media may have trickled down to many poll respondents, [said Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage.]

“It’s important to note, however, that we carefully crafted the poll’s questions,” [Towery noted]. “We never mentioned the words ‘race’ or ‘controversy,’ or explained what all the fuss was about. Our first question was simply, ‘Are you aware of the situation regarding Sen. Barack Obama’s church pastor and the past public remarks he has made?’"

“So there was a deliberate effort not to ‘push poll’ respondents, or to influence their answers in any way,” Towery said. “Also note that only one out of 50 poll respondents had no opinion.”

The results of the poll, while not reassuring to Obama, can be probably be overcome as other events unfold. Already the news cycle is turning to the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion. …

The full InsiderAdvantage report is here.


The quality of the InsiderAdvantage report is so outstanding any added “highlighting” by me would be bumptious.

So I’ll just use one part of the report as a “launch pad” for something important about a lot of the MSM coverage of reaction to Obama’s speech.

As noted, InsiderAdvantage found Independents by an overwhelming margin said they were less likely to vote for Obama as a result of the speech. Other polls have found the same thing.

But most MSM reports I've read and heard don’t mention Independents' reactions to the speech.

The latest example of that is the liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer’s front-page story today:

Is this speech a turning point?

Blunt talk on race may bring culture shift -- if we let it
The N&O's almost 1200-word story, under reporter Matt Ehlers’ byline, reports reaction to the speech only in terms of liberals vs. conservatives.
… Liberal commentators piled praise on the speech, with some comparing it to the eloquence of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Many conservatives panned it as a political maneuver by Obama to distance himself from the fiery sermons of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

A CBS poll taken two days after Tuesday's speech found that 69 percent of voters who had heard or read about Obama's speech say he did a good job addressing race relations, and 63 percent said they agree with Obama's views on race relations. But the poll also found that only 52 percent of registered voters now think Obama can unite the country, down from 67 percent last month. …
Nowhere in the story are independents even mentioned.

The N&O tells readers its reporting is fair and accurate and free of political bias.

Yes, and the Easter Bunny left the baskets under the beds this morning.

The entire N&O story is here.