Thursday, August 31, 2006

Duke lacrosse: an interesting media double standard

The cable yakkers have had a field day bashing the DA in Boulder for her recent actions in the Jon Benet Ramsey murder case. For over a year they have criticized Aruban authorities in the Natalie Holloway case. Yet they are oddly restrained when it comes to the Durham DA.

No one says "Aruba must have some good reason to release Joren van der Sloot". Yet it is a mantra on cable that "Nifong must have something" to go forward in the teeth of overwhelming scientific evidence.

All one has to do is read Robert KC Johnson blog to see how poorly Durham has handled the investigation. So why are the blowhards so reluctant to state the obvious?
The legacy of Hearst and Ochs

Jack Shafer has a review of an interesting new book:
The Great Press War of 1897

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Duke lacrosse

Stuart Taylor has another strong entry. This time he shows how the New York Times is still spinning for Nifong:
Witness for the Prosecution?

Hitchens slaps Corn and Isikoff around a bit. Goodness know they need it.
After you have noted that the Niger uranium connection was in fact based on intelligence that has turned out to be sound, you may also note that this heated moral tone ("thuggish," "gang") is now quite absent from the story. It turns out that the person who put Valerie Plame's identity into circulation was a staunch foe of regime change in Iraq. Oh, that's all right, then. But you have to laugh at the way Corn now so neutrally describes his own initial delusion as one that was "seized on by administration critics."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Triple Cross"

I watched the National Geographic documentary last night. It was interesting, but left nagging questions how Ali Mohhammed managed to elude capture/arrest for so long.

This statement by Peter Lance fills in some of the blanks. His book may fill in more.

At a minimum, Ali Mohammed would have been an interesting node for the ABLE DANGER project.

Flight 93 Memorial

The Blog from the Core has pictures from the 2002 memorial commemoration. Check them out. (He's also turned some into wallpapers and screensavers.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Duke lacrosse

The New York Times tried to do a story on the DA's case. No surprise, they mucked it up. Robert KC Johnson hits a few of their glaring errors:

The Times Drops the Ball

Update: Don't miss this post at ABP:

Duke Lacrosse (Supposed) Rape Case: New “Evidence” Doesn’t Seem To Help Prosecution
A not uncommon miscarriage of justice

Lab didn't bother with DNA

Analyst had doubts about rape case that convicted wrong man

Chicago police detectives and top officials of a crime lab refused to seek DNA testing in a 1993 rape case, despite a lab analyst's belief that the man might be innocent, testimony shows.

LaFonso Rollins was convicted in the case and spent 11 years in prison before he was exonerated in 2004. In February the city agreed to pay him $9 million in damages

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Will they remember this later?

Last Sunday's Reliable Sources was hard on the MSM and its embrace of the tabloid ethos. Examples:

KURTZ: David Zurawik, I almost have the impression, for the media, it almost doesn't matter whether John Karr did it. If he's the killer, it's a great story. If it's a hoax, it's a great story.

ZURAWIK TELEVISION CRITIC, "BALTIMORE SUN: It's absolutely true, Howie. You know, we've learned nothing. We've learned nothing from this. This is what's amazing.

When I saw that "Solved" headline and us back into the mode, it's because, we -- Howie, we moved away from the old journalism of verified information. Journalism is a discipline of verification, and the worst thing you could do was get something wrong.

Now the thing is to tell a hot story that plays like a prime time drama, and it really started back with the news magazines in prime time. And you are absolutely right. Either one of those is a great story.

JOANNE OSTROW, TELEVISION CRITIC, "DENVER POST": It's true. I mean, you found that the -- the prime time news shows on the major networks were jumping on stories that had come up first in the "Globe" and the "Enquirer" and online, the cable shouters. You know, they can say things and the bottom dwellers can say things that the establishment news can't.

And so this story sort of merged everyone. Everyone's chasing the same speculative stuff, and those old divisions fell away.

KURTZ: Diane Dimond, did the media not pay a price? You were talking a moment ago about how we used to have the reporting of verification and now basically anybody can say anything and put it online or put it on television. And yet doesn't this kind of chip away at the reputation we think we would like to have, which is that we're careful, we care about the facts and all of that?

DIANE DIMOND: Yes. Well, we must have blindfolds on if we think that anymore. Because look at the latest public opinion polls. I think we're right below defense attorneys and used car salesmen, journalists.

And you know what? I think to some degree we've put ourselves there, and we did it by over-shouting ourselves on stories like this. It's one thing to report them, but it's another thing to just completely saturate the public with them

Now the key question is : will they remember this the next time a guest tries to argue that bloggers don't have the standards of the MSM?

The show also discussed Tony Kornheiser and Monday Night Football. Apparently, TK does not read the paper he writes for. You just have to wonder. If the people who work for the Post don't read it, why should people actually pay for the content and waste their time on it?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Duke lacrosse

Having hyped the story when it fit their template, the national media now have lost interest in the case. The Triangle media is still a mixed bag, but when they do good work (e. g. Jeff Neff at the N&O) the rest of the MSM acts deaf and blind.

Fortunately, a few online voices soldier on. William Anderson has a great post on how blogs have effected this case.

For those interested in the matter, four blogs stand out as required reading.

John in Carolina

Crystal Mess

Johnsville News

Durham in Wonderland (Robert KC Johnson's blog)

Four factors elevate this case from the run of the mill.

1. The eagerness with which the national press jumped on the story and tried to make it significant. Most "athletes behaving badly" stories do not draw this sort attention. Contrast Duke lax with the Fresno City College gang rape allegations. The latter did not rate coverage in Newsweek or thumbsuckers in Slate.

2. The paucity of incriminating evidence and the abundance of exculpatory evidence. Seldom has a case looked so weak so quickly and still gone forward.

3. The intersection of politics and criminal justice. The case was fodder for a hard fought primary campaign. This is important given point #2. Our skeptical MSM was unusually quiet about this issue when it mattered.

4. The sinister actions of DA Nifong in light of #2 and #3. A poster at the Court TV boards put it this way:
Let us not forget Mr. Nifong's comments highlighting the race, class, gender and resident/non-resident issues simmering below the surface in this case.

It seems to me that Mr. Nifong has been laying the ground for jury nullification since the day he learned that it was not semen from the LAX players found inside the AV
Outstanding reporting

From Esquire

The School

On the first day of school in 2004, a Chechen terrorist group struck the Russian town of Beslan. Targeting children, they took more than eleven hundred hostages. The attack represented a horrifying innovation in human brutality. Here, an extraordinary accounting of the experience of terror in the age of terrorism

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The evil that psychics do

Following up on this post. Check out this:
3/06/06 (PMP) Introduction to the Psychics and Missing People Series
It's written by the mother of a missing child.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Brian Williams really is an idiot.

UPDATE: Slublog handles his "argument" here. I'm afraid it's going to leave a mark.
The MSM is full of slime sucking weasels

To see why, read this over at Cam Edwards.

Then take a look at this "apology" from the Chicago Tribune.

Haste to make deadline is no excuse for putting incorrect information in a ewspaper.

Factual errors erode a paper's credibility.

We made an inadvertent but hurtful error Tuesday night in an effort to get as much news as possible into Wednesday's final edition of the Tribune sports section, and we would like to apologize to Eddie Johnson, his family and friends, and our readers
They smear a good man and they can only whine about deadlines.

Are deadlines somehow more important than getting the facts right? Why? What bad thing would have happened to the Tribune if they had waited a day to verify which Eddie Johnson was arrested?

It is just one more example of the MSM failing to walk the walk when it comes to fact-checking and editorial supervision.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I never knew that the shooting of Bonnie and Clyde was considered “controversial.”

They swore they would never be taken alive and Frank Hamer took them at their word. The gang had already left 9 dead lawmen in their wake.

I guess people are still enthralled by the movie hype. They get Dunaway and Beatty confused with Parker and Barrow. That’s the only way I can explain tripe like this.

Despite the mythmakers efforts, they were not Romeo and Julliet. Nor were they Depression-era Robin Hoods. They did not rob banks to help the poor; they preyed on struggling grocers and gas station owners.

The Mike Royko column found on this page shows the human toll exacted by Clyde’s two year joyride.

Bryan Burrough, in his terrific book Public Enemies hits the nail on the head with his final judgment of the pair.

Art has now done for Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow something they could never achieve in life: it has taken a shark-eyed multiple murderer and his deluded girlfriend and transformed them into sympathetic characters, imbuing them with a cuddly likability they did not possess, and a cultural signifigance they do not deserve.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Stuck on Cheney and still stuck on stupid

OK. I'm usually with Ace on this: who cares what Andrew Sullivan thinks?

But this is interesting nonetheless.

The MSM had a field day when Rep. Dan Burton did experiments in his backyard to "investigate" Vince Foster's suicide. Now we have Time's blogger taking a loon's shotgun "experiment" seriously when it comes to Cheney.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The battle of Athens, TN

MSNBC has a short story about one of the most interesting events in post-WWII America.

Where were you during the Battle of Athens?
Theodore White wrote about this for Harpers when it happened and included it in his memoirs In Search of History. His prose was better. I’ve always like this:

The potbellied civilian deputies could offer no resistance to the men who had helped destroy the Wehrmacht.
White also offered another observation about New Deal era politics that deserves repeating:

The Northern political machines in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, were corrupt but not murderous. In the South, they condoned murder.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Good one
Charity and chastity are both Christian virtues. I'll be as angry at the Religious Right as I am at the Left when every April 15th I have to turn in forms about my required participation in the Right's chastity programs.
There's more here.
So much for the journalism of verification

CSI: Turning from Science to Psychics

But what happens when psychic powers are used for much more important and practical purposes, such as solving crimes? Psychic detectives have a long and glaring track record of utter failure in criminal cases; from Elizabeth Smart to Laci Peterson to Chandra Levy, Jimmy Hoffa, and countless others, psychic information has been worthless in leading police to missing persons. Still, when crimes remain unsolved and families are desperate, psychics will offer to help. And sometimes entertain.

Following the success of Court TV's series Psychic Detectives, the network launched a new "reality TV" program titled Haunting Evidence. California "psychic profiler" Carla Baron and two other investigators spend 24 hours revisiting real-life cold case murders in the expectation that their powers will succeed where police have failed. Oddly, the team doesn't tackle obvious missing persons cases known to many Americans, such as the 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey, or Natalee Holloway's 2005 disappearance. Perhaps those cases are too high-profile, and might cause the public to wonder why America's top psychic detectives hadn't solved those long ago

I don't understand how Court TV can promote garbage like this. The more interesting question is how the network can crank out such slimy bilge and and still be seen as a place where serious journalists work.

They are not alone in this sort of thing. ABC, to take one example, was willing to suspend their skepticism to flack for a psychic in their search for ratings.

So is Prime Time a news show? Is it just fluff? Don't they use the same respected television journalists who show up on Charlie Gibson's news broadcast?

If this sort of thing just tarnished a network's reputation, that would be one thing. But hyping the bona fides of "paranormal investigators" has two other effects.

1. It increases the credibility of all parnormal practictioners. This makes it easier for the unscrupulous to exploit the hurting. (See this)

2. It encourages dingbats to flood police hotlines in high profile cases.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Executive Officer Lieutenant Chris Burbank. Lt. Burbank says that of the 18,000 specific tips the department received on Elizabeth Smart during the nine months she was missing, half of them -- 9,000 -- came from either proclaimed psychics or people using psychic-sounding language (e.g., “I had a dream,” “I had a vision”). While Lt. Burbank could not accurately say how many of these people predicted Elizabeth Smart was alive, he knows there were a number of them, because many of them called back after Elizabeth was found to say, “I told you so.” Lt. Burbank added that it is "more difficult to focus your efforts” with all these kinds of phone calls that require “many police hours” to field and follow up on. Needless to say, this leads to wasted police effort at taxpayer's expense.
She's right again

The Seattle shooter who killed one woman and shot five other women in their stomachs after declaring he was a "Muslim-American" who was "angry at Israel" has been charged with nine felony counts including murder, hate crimes, and kidnapping. I happen to think this is far more important news than Mel Gibson getting charged. But what do I know

Rest here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Duke lacrosse

Robert KC Johnson looks at the actions and rhetoric of Duke's president:
The Brodhead Files
John in Carolina dissects a Herald-Sun story that tried to recycle old news as a startling revelation:
Duke lacrosse: A fake Herald Sun story?