Saturday, February 14, 2009

N&O's McClatchy Co. slides closer to the edge

Considering their company's share price has crashed from the mid-70s to penny stock status in less than five years, execs at McClatchy Co., the news chain which owns the liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer, are sure upbeat.

But information-technology exec Alan Mutter, a former journalist, isn’t at all upbeat about McClatchy which he sees as likely to default on its debt obligations:

The publishers most likely to be unable to satisfy the terms of their debt are MediaNews Group and Morris Publishing, according to the latest ratings from Moody’s Investors Services, a company hired by borrowers to gauge their likely ability to repay their debt. . . .

After those two publishers, the newspaper company next most likely to default is McClatchy, according to Standard and Poor’s, a competitor of Moody’s.

S&P, which uses a different nomenclature than Moody’s, scores MNI’s debt at CCC, which is one notch higher than the MediaNews and Morris ratings. A CCC rating indicates a 48.3% chance of default.

Although the bond rating agencies usually come out fairly closely on a company’s rating, McClatchy gets a far better score from Moody’s than from S&P. Moody’s rates MNI at Ba2, which indicates only a 7.5% chance of default. McClatchy has renegotiated the terms of loans due in the second half of this year.

While Moody’s believes the company to be able to comply with the new terms of the obligations, the ratings by S&P and Fitch, yet a third rating service, suggest a considerably higher level of doubt. . . .
Mutter’s entire post’s here.

A week or so ago JinC Regular Ken in Dallas commented:
There is zero chance that McClathy will ever be able to repay the $2 billion in debt they have accumulated. The markets have already confirmed this with their share price.

They'll hang on for a while like a beggar waiting for the last handout of the day. Then they'll disappear silently into the night.

Good riddance.
With each passing month, despite the “rah-rahs” from McClatchy execs and news editors, sensible people are recognizing the obvious: McClatchy’s headed for bankruptcy.

In case anyone's wondering why Ken and many of us would say good riddance to the kind of journalism McClatchy & the N&O have foisted on the public, here's an Anon comment I've taken from the same thread as Ken's comments:
Never forget the N&O's inflammatory coverage of the lacrosse players in 2006. The newspaper libeled the falsely accused players as well as the entire team and cast the lacrosse players in a false light.

To this day, publisher Quarles has not apologized for the infamous Khanna-Blythe story or for other Nifong-driven coverage. Shame.

Hat tip: McClatchy Watch

Reagan In '84 Responding To "The Age" Question

It's a wonderful 19 seconds worth viewing again. Even Mondale enjoyed it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Churchill Series - Feb. 13, 2009

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

Reader’s Note:
Previous posts dealing with John(Jack) Strange Spencer Churchill (1880-1947) and his relationship with his only brother and sibling, Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965), are here, here, here, and here.

On Aug. 8, 1908, Jack Churchill married Lady Gwendeline Bertie, whom Winston knew and liked. Later that day, Winston wrote to Clementine Hozier, to whom he would propose in a few days and marry a month later:

I have just come back from throwing an old slipper into Jack’s departing motor-car. It was a very pretty wedding. No swarms of London fly-catchers. No one came who did not really care & the only spectators were tenants & countryfolk. Only children for bridesmaids & Yeomanry with crossed swords for pomp.

The bride looked lovely & her father & mother were sad indeed to lose her. But the triumphant Jack bore her off amid showers of rice & pursuing cheers – let us pray – to happiness & honour.
Jack and Goonie (as she was always called) were, much like Winston and Clementine: intelligent, generous, witty and deeply in love.

Clementine and Goonie quickly became fast friends. They discussed details of their children’s development and their husbands’ careers. They shared opinions concerning art, music, social issues, and affairs of state. In later years they traveled together to such places as Venice, Florence, Rome, Paris and the South of France.

Besides delighting in each others company, the two couples often cared for each others children.

For a time during WW I while Winston served on the Western front and Jack served in the Eastern Mediterranean and later on the Western front, Clementine and her children moved in with Goonie and her three children.

Right up until Goonie’s illness and death in 1941, Winston and Clementine counted on Jack and Goonie (nicknamed “the Jagoons”) for generous love that included a quality rare at any time, and vital to a statesman: discretion.

The Jagoons never let them down. Candid when speaking to Winston and Clementine, they were expert at protecting Winston and Clementine’s private lives and unguarded comments.

In Monday’s post, I’ll conclude this series with a sketch of Jack’s later years and some thoughts on his achievements, including his contributions to Winston and Clementine’s lives.

Winston’s letter describing Jack and Goonie’s wedding can be found on pgs. 12-13 of
Speaking for Themselves: The personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Mary Soames, Editor). I relied on that work for other material in this post. I also made use of Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life and Richard Hough’s Winston and Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills.

Chronicle A Bit Critical of Duke’s Secrecy

Duke's President Brodhead’s never said why he refused to meet with the lacrosse parents on March 25, 2006. And The Chronicle's never asked why.

Brodhead, Duke's trustees, and almost all its faculty, including all but one or two of the Law School faculty, were publicly silent when racists outside and within the Durham County Courthouse shouted threats, including death threats, at then Duke student Reade Seligmann. TC never asked why.

For that matter, TC's never explained its own editorial silence when the racists attacked Seligmann.

TC has never asked Brodhead or BOT chair Bob Steel whether Duke did in fact secretly release FERPA-protected student records to now disbarred former Durham DA Mike Nifong.

Or whether, if it did that, Duke then engaged in a charade with Nifong to deceive the students, their parents and the court into believing Duke had not already released the records?

But perhaps TC will soon ask those questions and others that most members of the Duke community want answers to.

I say that because today TC’s editorial board addresses serious matters involving trustee and senior administrator's decision-making, particularly the secrecy that typically shrouds it.

Here’s some of what TC’s editorial board says - - -

Last weekend some current and former members of the Board of Trustees came to the University for a closed-door meeting about the recession and how the University can best respond to it in the future.

The public knows almost nothing specific about the meeting. Representatives-including Chair Robert Steel, Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, and Executive Vice President Tallman Trask-acknowledged to The Chronicle that the meeting occurred and that its focus was the University's financial situation.

But as to who was there, what specifically was discussed, why the meeting was necessary and what the University's general strategy will be in the recession-mum's the word.

And although it is encouraging that the University appears to be acting in a proactive manner, it is disconcerting that the information coming from University administrators was so vague and that the meeting itself was seemingly secret. …

As the editorial progresses TC gets increasingly wobbly and closes with - - -

In the end, it is understandable that, in order to function effectively, a board of trustees at a private university will need to keep many matters secret. But there are some subjects-and this is one of them-about which a board of trustees should make every effort to inform the many people in the Duke community who are invested in the University and whose livelihood depends on it.

No one is demanding the minutes of last weekend's meeting: a coherent and public statement of strategy would do just fine.

The entire editorial’s here.


My comments:

Today the TC editorial board took a few small steps toward what let's hope is now its goal of questioning the excessive secrecy that’s characterized the Steel/Brodhead running of Duke since at least Spring 2006.

When Duke won’t explain its silence when an angry crowd at the edge of East Campus waved a CASTRATE banner and went after Duke students, it’s shamefully secretive.

We are now at a point such that when a person asks, “Do you think Brodhead and Steel OK’ed the release of that FERPA information?”, people can only shrug and reply: “We’ll just have to wait for discovery in those suits.”

But it shouldn’t literally take federal lawsuits to get an honest answer to that question and many others the Brodhead/Steel leadership team is covering up on.

Let’s hope TC's small steps today are soon followed by bigger ones.

Request to the TC editorial board: Please tell us why editor Chelsea Allison recused herself from today’s editorial.

N&O Still Selling Photos of Bogus Swim Story

Thanks to JammieWearingFool and McClatchy Watch who both link to this post and include "heroic" photos.

Yesterday I posted
N&O Fell For Bogus Atlantic Swimmer Story.

The short of it: On Feb. 7 the McClatchy Company's Raleigh N&O went with an AP story about 56-year-old Jennifer Figge becoming "the first woman on record to swim across the Atlantic Ocean" while "battling waves of up to 30 feet" along the way.


Except the story was bogus and the AP and the N&O have since published corrections.


McClatchy's N&O has copyrights on photos of Figge and her "event" that you'll find linked at beside the story.

You can click on the "Buy" button which will take to N&O Photo Store.

Go there and you'll see the N&O has some great deals. A 5 by 7 photo is only $9.99 unframed or $54.95 framed.

I'm sure the N&O hopes you decide that for the special someone you love, a framed 16 by 20 Figge photo at just $119.95 is the perfect Valentine gift.

Question: Was the N&O influenced to go with Figge's bogus story because it could sell the photos and frames?

Now for any who believe McClatchy's N&O is so serious about its "journalistic standards" that days after admitting the story was bogus it wouldn't still be selling framed photos of Figge and her "event," just look below at what I copied a few minutes ago.

Magnify Image
Any copyright watermarks shown above do NOT appear on prints. The image above is for display purposes only and may appear blurry on your screen. Actual prints are made from high-resolution files for perfect reproduction.
  • Select Size
    Size Unframed Framed
    4x6 Prints (4-pack) $14.99
    5x7 $9.99 $54.95
    8x10 $14.99 $74.95
    11x14 $29.99 $99.95
    16x20 $49.99 $119.95
    20x30 $89.99
    Gifts From $14.95

© Copyright © 2009, The News & Observer Publishing Company, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Company

Help | Contact Us | Parental Consent | Privacy | Terms of Use | RSS Feeds | N&O Store | Advertising

Thanks, Dianne

From the - - -

A senior U.S. lawmaker said Thursday that unmanned CIA Predator aircraft operating in Pakistan are flown from an airbase inside that country, a revelation likely to embarrass the Pakistani government and complicate its counterterrorism collaboration with the United States.

The disclosure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, marked the first time a U.S. official had publicly commented on where the Predator aircraft patrolling Pakistan take off and land.

At a hearing, Feinstein expressed surprise at Pakistani opposition to the ongoing campaign of Predator-launched CIA missile strikes against Al Qaeda targets along Pakistan's northwest border.

"As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," she said of the planes.

The basing of the pilotless aircraft in Pakistan suggests a much deeper relationship with the United States on counterterrorism matters than has been publicly acknowledged. Such an arrangement would be at odds with protests lodged by officials in Islamabad and could inflame anti-American sentiment in the country. . . .

The rest of the story’s

Message to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and America’s other enemies: There’s still plenty of time to send Feinstein Valentine flowers and cards.

Hat tip: AC

A Lincoln Tribute

I’m a day late with it. As most of you know, yesterday was the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern has recently completed a biography of the man he says is our greatest President, a judgment many of us share.

Yesterday at Huffington Post McGovern paid tribute to Lincoln. Here’s part of what McGovern wrote. I think it will interest you and I pass it on as my way of paying tribute to President Abraham Lincoln.

. . . One could cite a number of reasons why Lincoln remains such a highly regarded president to all the generations since his assassination so many years ago.

Certainly one of those factors has been the inspired and masterful speeches that came from his heart, mind, and soul.

No other president possessed such compelling literary power and grace. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson would rate second and third among the presidents who crafted their own addresses.

I recall vividly during my years in the excellent public schools of Mitchell, South Dakota, being required to memorize and recite Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. That address stirred my respect for Lincoln then as it does today. It belongs with the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights among our greatest state papers.

Each of us might add others to that list. In my case I would add Lincoln's two inaugurals and the farewell addresses of two generals who served as president, George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower.

Lincoln worked diligently on his speeches. He would begin by reading the better speeches of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and he would draw upon his knowledge of the Bible, Shakespeare, Aesop's Fables and John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. He also kept at hand a file of his own previous speeches. He would then begin to write in longhand a draft of his speech, which he would further refine each time he read it.

This process of reading selected works, digesting the most stirring and eloquent passages of other speeches, and then laboriously writing his own thoughts and words could sometimes take weeks or even months.

When he finally had a draft that satisfied him he would call in a critic -- perhaps his secretary of state, William H. Seward -- and ask him to read the speech aloud in Lincoln's presence. Then the president would read it aloud to Seward and the two men would discuss where the draft might be improved.

It was through this give and take that Seward suggested a phrase for Lincoln's first inaugural address that in the final draft became the now immortal phrase "the better angels of our nature."

The Churchill Series - Feb.12, 2009

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

Reader’s Note:
Previous posts dealing with John (Jack) Strange Spencer Churchill (1880-1947) and his relationship with his only brother and sibling, Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965), are here, here and here.

On January 28, 1900, Jack Churchill arrived in Durban, South Africa, aboard a hospital ship, Maine, which his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, had helped raise funds to equip. Recently commissioned in the Territorials, Jack had volunteered to serve in the Boer War.

Within a week of his arrival Jack observed his twentieth birthday and was serving alongside his brother Winston, five years his senior and, by then, an experienced combat officer who’d seen action along what is now the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, in Sudan, and South Africa.

The brothers’ first combat action together occurred on Feb. 12 when they were part of a mounted scouting patrol which encountered a much larger Boer force. The British patrol retreated under fire and appeared to have ridden clear of the Boers. Winston tells us what happened next:

I looked back over my shoulder from time to time at Hussar Hill or surveyed the large brown masses of our rearmost squadrons riding so placidly home across the rolling veldt. I remarked to my companion, “We are still much too near those fellows.”

The words were hardly out of my mouth when a shot rang out, followed by the rattle of magazine fire from two or three hundred Mauser rifles. A hail of bullets whistled among our squadrons, emptying a few saddles and bringing down a few horses.

Instinctively our whole cavalcade spread out into open order and scampered over the crest now nearly two hundreds yards away. Here we leapt off our horses, which were hurried into cover, threw ourselves on the grass and returned the fire. …

Jack was lying by my side. All of a sudden he jumped and wriggled back a yard or two from the line. He had been shot in the calf, in this his very first skirmish. …

I helped him from the firing-line and saw (that he received medical attention).
After treatment at a field hospital, Jack was evacuated to the Maine to complete his recovery. His mother had come out with the hospital ship and Winston soon joined them on board for a period of some days.

Jack later returned to the fighting. He was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Queen’s Medal with five clasps.

For some years before WW I , Jack and Winston served together in the Oxfordshire Yeomanry, at the time a reserve unit whose members pursued civilian careers while training periodically.

Jack was on active duty throughout WWI. He served first near Dunkirk where the British fought to stop the German’s initial advance along the channel coast. Afterwards he served on the Western front, later at Gallipoli and, finally, back again on the Western front after British forces were withdrawn from Gallipoli.

As in the Boer War, Jack served with distinction. He was mentioned in dispatches; and in 1918 was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Most historians say the quality Churchill most admired in a man was physical bravery. Jack, he knew, was such a man.

In tomorrow’s post the brothers marry within a month of each other; their wives become close friends; and the two couples move through life sharing good times and bad until death parts them.
For this post I’ve drawn from
Speaking for Themselves: The personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Mary Soames, Editor), Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life, Richard Hough’s Winston and Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills,and John Keegan’s Winston Churchill.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

N&O Fell For Bogus Atlantic Swimmer Story

A few days ago the McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer headlined

56-year-old becomes 1st woman to swim Atlantic
The story, under AP reporter Danica Coto’s byline, begins:
Jennifer Figge pressed her toes into the Caribbean sand, exhilarated and exhausted as she touched land this week for the first time in almost a month.

Reaching a beach in Trinidad, she became the first woman on record to swim across the Atlantic Ocean - a dream she'd had since the early 1960s, when a stormy trans-Atlantic flight got her thinking she could don a life vest and swim the rest of the way if needed.

The 56-year-old left the Cape Verde Islands off Africa's western coast on Jan. 12, battling waves of up to 30 feet (9 meters) and strong winds.
The rest of the story’s here.

If you’re thinking: “This sounds too good to be true,” you’re right. The story’s bogus and after much pressure the AP has finally printed a correction which is available at

Why did N&O news editors publish a literally unbelievable story without doing a little fact-checking?

JammieWearingFool has been on this story and today provides background and sharp commentary.

McClatchy Watch adds more, including the fact Coto is a former McClatchy reporter.

Give both bloggers a look.

You’ll then be shaking your head and wondering why the AP, McClatchy and the N&O are always boasting about their hundreds of editors who do all that fact-checking.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Churchill Series - Feb.11, 2009

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

Reader’s Note:
Previous posts dealing with John Strange Spencer Churchill (1880-1947) and his relationship with his only brother and sibling, Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965), are here and here.

Neglected by their parents, Winston and Jack received the care and love their parents owed them from their nanny, Mrs. Ann Everest, whom the Churchills first employed when Winston was born. The boys reciprocated Everest’s love.

That they would each love Everest is understandable. What’s extraordinary is that they developed in childhood feelings for each other of deep affection, admiration, concern, and devotion that would last their lifetimes.

There were so many factors that could have helped lead the brothers to an envious rivalry. Jack displaced Winston as the only object of Everest’s love and attention. Family and friends often let the boys know Jack was “good,” “really a dear,” while Winnie was “troublesome” and “a worry.” When Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph, spoke or wrote to Winston, he often held Jack up as an example of what Winston should be, usually using harsh, even brutal, language.

An act of Winston’s at the time of Mrs. Everest death on July 3, 1893 reveals his concern for Jack, then a thirteen year old school boy at Harrow.

When Churchill heard Everest was ill, he rushed to her bedside in London. Realizing her condition was serious, he arranged at his expense for a noted physician to attend her and engaged a nurse. But Everest died within a day of his arrival.

Common practice at the time called for Churchill to send Jack news of Everest’s death via telegram. There was also the matter of Churchill having interrupted his military training to go to Everest. He was falling behind each day he was away. He needed to return to his post.

Nevertheless, at a time of great personal sorrow, Churchill was mindful of Jack’s feelings. So he took the train to Harrow and spared Jack the shock of learning the news from a telegram. In doing so, Churchill was also making sure there would be someone at Harrow who understood and shared Jack’s grief.

At the time of Everest’s death Churchill was 18.

In tomorrow’s post, Churchill leaves for South Africa to report and fight in the Boer War. Jack joins him there. The brothers literally fight side by side and narrowly escape death, although Jack is wounded.
For this post I’ve drawn from
Speaking for Themselves: The personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Mary Soames, Editor), Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life, Richard Hough’s Winston and Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills, and John Keegan’s Winston Churchill.

Paglia:“Arrogant Elitists” Are Lib Talk Radio’s Problems

Readers Note: As first published this post didn't include links to my previous posts calling attention to Sen. Stabenow's conflict of interest. A commenter alerted me. The links have been added. I thank the commenter.


Camille Paglia in her latest column - - -

. . . Speaking of talk radio (which I listen to constantly), I remain incredulous that any Democrat who professes liberal values would give a moment's thought to supporting a return of the Fairness Doctrine to muzzle conservative shows. (My latest manifesto on this subject appeared in my last column.)

The failure of liberals to master the vibrant medium of talk radio remains puzzling. To reach the radio audience (whether the topic is sports, politics or car repair), a host must have populist instincts and use the robust common voice.

Too many Democrats have become arrogant elitists, speaking down in snide, condescending tones toward tradition-minded middle Americans whom they stereotype as rubes and buffoons.

But the bottom line is that government surveillance of the ideological content of talk radio is a shocking first step toward totalitarianism.

One of the nuggets I've gleaned from several radio sources is that Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who has been in the aggressive forefront of the campaign to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, is married to Tom Athans, who works extensively with left-wing radio organizations and was once the executive vice-president of Air America, the liberal radio syndicate that, despite massive publicity from major media, has failed miserably to win a national audience.

Stabenow's outrageous conflict of interest has of course been largely ignored by the prestige press, which should have been demanding that she recuse herself from all political involvement with this issue. . . .

Paglia’s entire column’s here.

My comments:

Paglia’ right: Stabenow has gross conflict of interest. I’ve recently posted about it in
(Updated) Dem Sen.: Talk Radio Informs “Incorrectly;” Supports Hearings and Dem Sen. Stabenow’s conflict of interest.

IMO the most important and worrisome sentence in her column excerpt here is:

But the bottom line is that government surveillance of the ideological content of talk radio is a shocking first step toward totalitarianism.
What Paglia calls “the prestige press” won’t demand Stabenow recuse herself for three reasons.

For one, most of “the prestige” newspapers tank for the Dems either because they share the Dems’ ideology or because they’re afraid to challenge it.

Second, most newspapers see conservative talk radio shows as competitors who drain off readers.

Third, newspaper publishers and editors don’t like conservative talk radio hosts pointing out all the mistakes and liberal bias in their papers.

N&O’s Interest Conflict In Lobbyist Newsletter Deal

The McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer claims to be “a “watchdog” that looks out for the public’s interest.

Last December N&O public editor Ted Vaden, self-described “ readers’ advocate,” penned a column - “The watchdog still barks -- and bites” – in which he gushed about he N&O’s “continuing commitment to performing the watchdog function.”

But just this past Sunday Vaden's column was a justification of “the public’s watchdog's” entering into what’s meant to be a moneymaking deal for both a lobbyist whose clients include pharmaceutical and other health care companies and the N&O.

Here, in italics, is some of what Vaden said, with my comments interspersed in plain - - -

The "readers' advocate" began - - -

The relationship between one of The News & Observer's subsidiary publications and a Raleigh lobbyist has raised questions about independence of news coverage.

The N&O last month launched an e-mail newsletter called N.C. Legislative HealthWatch to cover health-related legislation in the General Assembly. The newsletter is written by Harrison J. Kaplan, a lawyer with the firm of McGuire Woods in Raleigh.

It is produced in partnership with The Insider, a state government affairs newsletter owned by The N&O. The Insider does the production, distribution and marketing of the health care newsletter, for which a subscription costs $399 a year.

Kaplan’s ties to health care interests prompted questions from Adam Searing, project director of the N.C. Justice Center's Health Access Coalition.

"(T)his new partnership raises questions about whether a health industry lobbyist should be joining with one of the largest media companies in the state to report on health issues," Searing wrote in a blog for N.C. Policy Watch, a liberal public policy advocacy group. "What gets reported on in this sort of newsletter may well end up in the more mainstream media. And, even with good will and the best of intentions all around, Kaplan's business provides an appearance of a conflict of interest regarding how and what he chooses to cover."
. . .

Folks, I can't see any problem with Kaplan writing a newsletter, covering whatever he wants and charging what the market will bear. His clients can decide if they’re OK with what he does.

The serious interest conflict involves the N&O, which is supposed to report the news, and its readers who expect the paper to do that.

If the N&O reports what’s newsworthy in Kaplan’s newsletter, than who’s going to pay $399 for it when they can read Kaplan’s news in the N&O which anyone can buy now at close to giveaway subscription prices?

The N&O knows that. So why would it do anything which would hurt the subscription sales of Kaplan’s $399 newsletter and the profit the N&O will make from The Insider's producing and distributing it?

Kaplan said that criticism reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the newsletter. It is intended not as a traditional news coverage medium, he said, but as an insider tip sheet for health care attorneys and other professionals following bills in the legislature.

Don’t insider tip sheets often contain important news? Isn’t that why “attorneys and other professionals following bills in the legislature” pay big bucks for them? Do you think Kaplan, Vaden, and everyone else at the N&O don’t know that?

"The purpose is not to report the news like the newspaper does," he told me. "It was to let people know what is happening down at the legislature from someone who is down there all the time."

But isn’t that what the N&O assures readers it does?

Dowell said Kaplan is compensated based on the success of subscription sales. (Well of course.)

Kaplan and Dowell both said they saw no conflict between Kaplan's reporting product and his representation of clients who might be affected by the material he covers.

Once again, the very serious conflict here
does not involve Kaplan and his clients who can cut him loose anytime.

The conflict involves the N&O, which if it reports the newsworthy material in Kaplan’s newsletter will take away people’s motivation to pay $399 for its tip sheet information and the N&O's readers who count on it to report that information in the paper.

With that in mind, look at what Vadan tells readers next.

John Drescher, executive editor of The News & Observer, said he doesn't see any conflict with The N&O's news coverage mission because the Insider and HealthWatch are separate entities not associated with his newsroom. "We're completely independent from them. I have no control over them, and they have no control over me. So it's not anything that would compromise the independence of the newsroom."

Drescher and Vaden really want you to believe that. That's why throughout his column Vaden shills the red herring of a possible lobbyist-newsletter conflict while ignoring the N&O's very serious news reporting conflict.

Drescher said material from Kaplan's newsletter would not end up in The N&O.

Of course not. As I've already said if the N&O did that, it would be killing what it hopes will be a nice moneymaking arrangement. Without making some money, how can the N&O pay Drescher, Vadan and its other employees salaries?

Can you believe there are N&O readers who swallow the N&O's baloney about its "public watchdog" role?

There’s a lot more in Vaden’s column, all of it meant to justify the Kaplan-N&O moneymaking partnership and to leave readers ignorant of the N&O's serious conflict of interest.

You can read it all here in Vaden's column with the misleading headline:"Looking at a lobbyist-newsletter relationship"