Saturday, September 30, 2006

One more reason to hate ESPN

Jason Whitlock was a rare bright spot on the Egregiously Shallow Pontificators Network. The only time PTI was informative was when he sat in for Kornheiser. Of course, it could not last.

Whitlock gave an interview to The Big Lead. He gave his honest opinion about some of the ESPN headliners. So, of course, the bedwetting mamas's boys in Bristol blacklisted him from the Sports Reporters and PTI.

You can read Whitlock's reaction in his newspaper column (here) and at his new web home at AOL Sports.
How do you know Nancy Grace is lying?

Her spokesman's lips are moving:
Grace released a two-sentence statement Tuesday through a spokeswoman saying: "Ms. Duckett's notes do not change what should be everyone's top priority: helping find Trenton Duckett and bring him home safe and sound, if that is still possible. That is our show's focus now, as it has been from day one of this sad and painful case, and we intend to stay the course."
What's on deck on NG's weekend special?
Closer look at the mysterious death of Anna Nicole Smith's 20-year-old son, who died just after she gave birth to a girl. Tune in Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Headline News.
For someone who revels in her confrontational style, she sure is willing to hide behind her PR people when the going gets tough.

Hmm. I wonder what Nancy Grace would say on her show about some one who refuses to answer questions directly?

During her Feb. 24 show, she brought it to bear on the spokesperson for Jennifer Hagel-Smith, a bride whose husband disappeared during their honeymoon cruise.

"Why does Jennifer Hagel-Smith need a P.R. person?" she asked. "I'm a crime victim. I didn't need a P.R. person. Why does she need a P.R. person
OK. So victims don't need PR people. I guess they are for liars, ratings whores, and plagiarists.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Anthrax mailings

FBI Is Casting A Wider Net in Anthrax Attacks

What was initially described as a near-military-grade biological weapon was ultimately found to have had a more ordinary pedigree, containing no additives and no signs of special processing to make the anthrax bacteria more deadly, law enforcement officials confirmed. In addition, the strain of anthrax used in the attacks has turned out to be more common than was initially believed, the officials said.

As a result, after a very public focus on government scientists as the likely source of the attacks, the FBI is today casting a far wider net, as investigators face the daunting prospect of an almost endless list of possible suspects in scores of countries around the globe

Update: Michael Barone has a must read post here.

I reposted this just a few days ago but it slipped way down the page: Anthrax attacks.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Duke lacrosse: Custom, interest, and the pursuit of truth

Like the Plame/Wilson case, the Duke lacrosse travesty presents us with a legal case in which the MSM is both chronicler and secret-keeper. While they tout the public’s “right to know” as they try to unseal court records and publish salacious minutia, they also hide important information from public when it serves their interest or ideology.

Crystal Mess highlights a serious example of this at the Raleigh News and Observer. On 25 March, the N&O ran a sympathetic piece on the escort at the center of the case. They included excerpts from an interview she gave their reporter. The N&O admitted that they applied an interesting bit of news judgment in reporting her statements:

[Managing Editor 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.
We now know that the accuser has given contradictory statements to police and other investigators. What the N&O has not told us is what contradictory statements she gave their reporters.

Nor has the N&O revisited that interview in light of their own subsequent reporting. In the 25 march interview, the accuser claimed that she was nervous the night of the lax party because she had never danced in front of a large group before. She stated that she had only recently gone to work as a dancer and had only done a few one on one performances.

The accuser had worked for an escort company for two months, doing one-on-one dates about three times a week."It wasn't the greatest job," she said, her voice trailing off. But with two children, and a full class load at N.C. Central University, it paid well and fit her schedule.This was the first time she had been hired to dance provocatively for a group, she said.
The N&O did an interview with one of her drivers that calls this into question. He told the paper that he had seen the accuser dancing at two strip clubs in the Raleigh area. In addition, the police have statements that indicate that the accuser had six one-on-one motel “dates” on the weekend prior to the lax party.

As Crystal Mess writes, it is time for the News and Observer to stop hiding what they know.

This N&O cover-up is an extreme example. The more common form of the problem grows out of the MSM’s love of unnamed sources. They get the best nuggets when their source knows they will remain anonymous. But their custom of protecting those sources also makes it easier for leakers to lie and dissemble. (See here.)

For example, DA Nifong now piously claims that he cannot discuss the case because indictments were handed up. Yet there were leaks from the prosecution long after the indictments of Seligman and Finerty. For example, someone showed their files to the New York Times reporters for their recent pro-Nifong story. Someone tipped reporters to the partial DNA “match” from the second round of testing before the documents were handed over to the defense.

The MSM is letting the DA and DPD get away with dishonest spin. Publicly they claim they cannot discuss the case. Off the record they feed reporters information. In essence the customs of the MSM guild (protect anonymous sources) allows public officials to lie.

Ruth Sheehan gave us a small but revealing example of how this guild custom leads to intellectual laziness and professional corruption. She had mocked bloggers for questioning the arrest of cab driver Moezeldin Elmostafa. When the trial showed that the case was as weak as bloggers said, she backpedaled and tossed out a weak justification:

Before the trial, word was that the "aided and abetted" shoplifter in the case would testify against Elmo. Also, the authorities had a security tape proving Elmo's involvement.

Let's just say that neither one panned out.

The shoplifter never testified. And the tape? Well, that was like going live with Geraldo Rivera when he opened Al Capone's vault: There was nothing there.
Instead of showing a cab speeding away from the scene of a crime, the tape showed the shoplifter hiding her bags behind her hip, then getting in the backseat and closing the door. Then the cab pulled away from the curb

“Word was”. What she really means is that sources inside of Nifong’s office and the DPD provided misleading information about their evidence. Is she outraged about that? No, she is more concerned with saving face in her tussle with the blogosphere. Besides, if she was too hard on those prosecution sources the N&O might miss out on some of those photo-friendly perp walks.

In criminal cases the use of unnamed sources skews the media coverage toward the prosecution. A good source in the DA’s office will give a crime beat writer a steady stream of exclusives and front page stories. Reporters have a powerful incentive to stay on good terms with those sources and avoid subjects that antagonize them. Defense sources are less useful to journalists and, hence, do not receive the same kid glove treatment.

What is good for reporters, however, is bad for the legal system. There are few checks on the power of prosecutors. The press could provide some scrutiny of their actions as they wield their enormous power. They rarely do so because they value their “exclusive” stories from anonymous sources. The public interest comes in a distant second to short-term self-interest.

See also:

Duke Lacrosse: Assessing the News Observer
Riding the dead mother bounce

Grace Is Focused Despite Woman's Suicide

Anybody who believes Nancy Grace was chastened by the suicide of a young mother following their tough television encounter doesn't know Nancy Grace.
I wonder why she won't back down?

With critics suggesting Grace's relentless focus on the case is cruel to Duckett's family, virtually all of Wednesday and Thursday's shows were devoted to Trenton's disappearance. "Nancy Grace" averaged 689,000 viewers the first three days of the week, comfortably above the show's third quarter average of 534,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Maybe the AP should hire reporters who do a little research. This guy is still repeating junk from her discredited publicity machine.

Grace went to college to be an English teacher, but her life changed in 1980 when her fiance was killed in a mugging by a man out on parole.

Just for the record: not a mugging, the killer was not on parole.

A few voices of journalistic integrity.

Grace's Interview Left a Stain on CNN

The sad fact of life is that ratings grabs are natural when a show isn't at the top of its heap competitively. We hope that next time, someone in authority will intervene before Ms. Grace can disgrace herself-and the network-again.

More Nancy Grace: Oh brother

The story of Nancy Grace points up an enduring lesson in television: Good ratings mean never having to say you're sorry.

Friday, September 22, 2006

What should we make of this?

Firearm Found in Suspicious Bag at BWI

Two concourses serving Southwest Airlines were evacuated for an hour early this morning at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, officials said, after security screeners spotted a gun inside a carry-on bag and were unable to detain its owner said.

The .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol was discovered at 6:40 a.m. at the security checkpoint serving concourses A and B, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration said. It was in one of two bags carried by a male passenger; the other bag had already been screened and cleared, spokesman Christopher White said.

"I am glad they conducted this drill and discovered the problems now. Far too many people want to criticize and call this a failure. It would only be a failure if we sat around and did nothing while people died. Drills like this help prepare us for the future. "

The passenger abandoned the bag containing the gun, and disappeared into the concourses, White said. Security officials evacuated the concourses at 7:11 a.m., and used police dogs to search the area.

The man was not located
It is even more concerning in light of this post.

And why, oh why, do we get a description of the gun, but no picture or description of the guy who tried to breach security with it?
Duke lacrosse: President Brodhead’s rank hypocrisy

This Robert KC Johnson post points out that Duke’s president is not always a passive bleating sheep when it comes to students victimized by questionable procedures and suspect legal systems. He was more than willing to get involved in a case in Armenia. Armenia!

It is only in Durham, apparently, that he feels compelled to be a bystander.

I also have a hard time reconciling this. When he was at Yale, he wrote to the New York parole board on behalf of Kathy Boudin:

Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead, who signed the letter pressing for her release, said in an e-mail that he was deeply moved by the story of her rehabilitation.

"This case raises in a very deep way the question of rehabilitation, the question whether punishment and suffering can work a change that makes further punishment just vindictive," Brodhead said. "Maybe I'm just a man who has taught 'The Scarlet Letter' too often, but I thought this was the case this time
At Duke, he sat by while the Durham police targeted his students for arrest and confinement.

(You can read about Kathy Boudin's "rehabilitation" here.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Walking advertisements for the death penalty

Killer Laughs, Tells Families To 'Get Over It'

Handy smirked in court as relatives of the victims talked about their loss. When it was his turn to speak, Handy said he was asking for no sympathy because he doesn't have any.

Handy showed no remorse as he addressed the court Wednesday, "I feel there's two types of people in this world, us and them, predator and prey. Well, I'm damn sure not a prey. So, I know there's people up in here hurt. Well, pain's a part of life, deal with it, get over it."

Arrest Made in Colo. Dragging Death

The woman, whose strangled and battered body was found Monday in a subdivision about 20 miles south of Denver, had still not been identified Thursday. Preliminary autopsy results indicated she died of asphyxiation and head injuries from the dragging, the coroner's office said. Sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Castellano declined to comment on the investigation Thursday.

Nancy Foley, who lives near the house where the body was found, said the woman was found with an orange tow rope around her neck and that her face was unrecognizable. Investigators said she had been dragged for at least a mile
The best courtroom drama ever?

It certainly is my favorite. Read more about Anatomy of a Murder and the man who wrote the novel here.
Which is worse?

Kids showing off on or big time newspaper pundits using their columns in the Washington Post to complain about kids showing off on

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Duke lacrosse: forget truth or lies, what matters is the word count

The Durham Herald Sun doesn't think this letter is worth reading. It's too long. That's the beauty of the blogosphere. We can read it even if the editors wants us to ignore it. On the web, facts and truth win out over arbitrary space limitations.
A sobering assessment

Practice Makes Terror

The "false alarms" we read about suspicious airline behavior may not be false.
After Columbine, schools implemented tough "zero tolerance" policies on weapons and behavior. It appears that we are less vigilant with air travel even in the wake of 9/11 and the bomb plot disrupted in August.

I have no idea why that is.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Worth repeating


Let's not mince words here. The biggest bottom feeder on all of television is Nancy Grace. Notwithstanding the fact that no one in his or her right mind should go on this show — and obviously Miss Duckett was not in her right mind.

Nancy Grace trades decency for ratings. Yes, I'm sure her producers sit around and say, This will be great television. You grill this woman who lost her son — just grill her. Just keep on attacking her. Just keep on attacking her.

It is disgusting. It is disgusting. And if CNN had any decency, they'd pull the plug on this woman

Monday, September 18, 2006

Anthrax attacks

Michelle Malkin notes the fifth anniversary of the anthrax letters.

Good day to repost this.

Originally posted 23 December 2005

Remember the Anthrax Attacks?

Four years later and the case is still open. I've just finished an interesting book on the subject: Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks by Edward G. Lake. (Lake also has a website: ). Both are a useful compendium of the known facts an do a good job of debunking the false leads that crept into the media narrative.

There were a lot of false leads that the media trumpeted. In some cases the reporting on the anthrax letters looks like an overture for the MSM meltdowns over Niger, WMDs, Abu Ghraib, and the false TANG documents. For instance, before Nick Kristoff signed up as Joe Wilson's PR flack, he was doing the same for Barbara Hatch Rosenberg in her vendetta against Dr. Stephen J. Hatfill. In both cases, Kristoff combined a preening moral passion with gullibility, obtuseness, and laziness. He went into a a dudgeon, but could not get his facts straight.

Before it botched the Koran/toilet story, Newsweek printed a harebrained story about bloodhounds identifying Hatfill from scents found on the envelopes. (Lake argues persuasively that the FBI used the bloodhounds after they lost Hatfill while he was under surveillance and had nothing to do with the envelopes.)

Lake believes Hatfill is innocent based on some pretty powerful evidence. The case against him, in contrast, relies heavily on innuendo, speculation, and misinformation.

It is telling, but wholly unsurprising that the voices raised over the NSA/al Qaeda wiretaps were silent during the highly publicized pursuit of Hatfill.

(Hatfill, like Richard Jewell, is an example of the how the free press can sell out the presumption of innocence for a few scraps of leaks from law enforcement.)

The Anthrax case is also a rebuke to Greta and Nancy Grace and all the other Holloway obsessives. For six months they've croaked about sending the FBI to Aruba. They act as if the Bureau has magical powers that let them solve every case they are assigned. The anthrax letters, like the Unabomber and Chandra Levy cases, are a standing rebuke to that conceit.

UPDATE 2008: New developments discussed here.

This is outstanding

CNN's Grace out of line in Duckett case

Most news organizations think that reporting the facts is their mission. CNN, in an effort to top the formidable Bill O'Reilly on Fox News in the 8 p.m. ratings -- Grace is nearly always running second or third in that slot -- apparently thinks it must make the news. Grace's performance so far is only a slim cut above TV-show host Jerry Springer's antics. Springer, however, doesn't masquerade as respectable.

She nails Nancy on a couple of lies and distortions. Like this one:
The worst part is that in the glee of building a case against Melinda Duckett, Grace has interpreted facts to fit her theory. Take, for example, her statement that Melinda was trying to sell Trenton's car seat. Grace has insinuated that that shows Melinda knew Trenton was dead. Melinda's parents, however, said that Trenton had outgrown his seat and that his mother bought him a new booster-sized one -- it's still at her grandparents' home in The Villages.

So tell me again-- why does she have a job with the Most Trusted Name in News?
Nancy Grace goes all in

Most people might have some qualms about their behavior if they browbeat a troubled young woman who then committed suicide. That, however, is not the Nancy Grace way. She is still plunging full speed ahead.

Grace: No Regrets Over Tough Interview

CNN Host Says Guilt Probably Drove Missing Boy's Mom To Suicide

The family of a missing Florida boy says CNN's Nancy Grace and others in the media helped push the child's mother over the edge.

Investigators say Melinda Duckett shot herself to death Friday, the day after she was grilled by Grace in a telephone interview, and hours before the interview aired.

Grace told ABC News on Friday that it was more likely guilt than the media that drove Duckett to kill herself. "To suggest that a 15- or 20-minute interview can cause someone to commit suicide is focusing on the wrong thing," she said

She has shoved all her chips into the pot and is counting on the police to tie Melinda Duckett to her son’s murder. If they don’t, her career could be over.

It’s worth remembering that Grace’s avenging angel act frequently selects the wrong target. She was adamant that the Runaway Bride was a kidnap victim; she insinuated that Matthew Winkler was abusive; and she insisted that Richard Ricci kidnapped Elizabeth Smart.

Let’s not forget that she compared defense attorneys to the guards at Auschwitz.

Like the criminals she loves to flay in prime time, Nancy Grace exhibits a narcissistic arrogance that blinds her to her own missteps and mistakes. She plows forward, looking for her next target and trusts that her audience will forget the miscues. (Given the average age of her viewers, she is smart to count on their memory lapses.)

Oh yeah. When she went on ABC to defend herself, she brought up the dead boyfriend again.

Grace said the focus should not be on the interview, but on finding Trenton Duckett. "While I sympathize with her family and know as a first-hand victim of crime myself, you look for somebody to blame, anybody," she said. "And today the family is blaming me. … But I would suggest their efforts go towards finding this baby."

Her victims advocate pose is tiresome. Lynch mobs always justify their actions by in the name of the victim. The men who hung Leo Frank did it in the name of poor, dead Mary Phagan.

Not to mention that every time she brings up the boyfriend, it raises uncomfortable questions about the lies and exaggerations she has told about the murder and the killer’s trial.

More here:

Nothing nice about Nancy Grace

CNN talk show reaches a new depth of sleaze

and here:

Nancy Grace

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

Book Review: Public Enemies

Bryan Burrough's Public Enemies does more than tell the story of the criminals who made headlines in the early 1930s. He sees 1933-34 as the crucible that gave us the modern FBI. He spends more time following the cops than he does the robbers. He is explicitly on the side of the law and happily debunks the many myths that cling to people like John Dillinger, Clyde Barrow, or the Barker gang.

Nonetheless Burrough does not sugarcoat the mistakes that Hoover and the FBI made in those years.

Publicly, Hoover touted his new crime-fighting organization staffed by collge educated, scientifically trained agents. But during the war on crime, he relied heavily on his "cowboys" to crack the toughest cases. There were experienced lawmen, many of them ex-Texas Rangers.

While the FBI used the war against the "public enemies" as a pretext for expanding the federal role in law enforcement, the Roosevelt administration saw the expansion as good in and of itself. The new FBI would validate the centralizing tendencies of the New Deal. As a consequence, the government inflated the importance of these criminals in order to justify their plans.

The FBI would repeat this tactic many times in its history. The target might be communist subversives, militias, or serial killers. The Bureau signed on as their de facto press agent as it hyped the new unparalleled menace. New dangers required new federal money and police powers.

Burrough notes that FBI action was not the only way to deal with the problems posed by the "automobile bandits." Bonnie and Clyde, after all, were run down by local law enforcement.

The PR machine Hoover established makes it easy for the Bureau to cover up mistakes. This started from the very beginning. After FBI agents killed 'Ma' Barker in a shootout in Florida, Hoover claimed that she was a vicious criminal who had been the brains behind the Barker-Karpis gang. Burrough makes it quite clear that this was pure bunk and was nothing more than CYA. Of course, the press fell for it hook line and sinker.

One interesting facet of this story is the extent to which the "Midwestern gangsters" like Dillinger and Nelson depended on big city organized crime and corruption. Chicago and St. Paul were their regular hideouts. The were protected (for a fee) which is why they lasted as long as they did.

The FBI was incredibly naïve about this part of the problem. The Capone syndicate used the Bureau to eliminate rivals in Chicago. The East Chicago, Indiana police may have orchestrated the killing of Dillinger to squelch an investigation into the aid they had given to Public Enemy Number One.

The East Chicago investigation brought out the worst in Hoover. Dillinger was the Bureau's greatest coup. When Matt Leach of the Indiana State Police persisted in his investigation, the FBI dug up dirt on his private life to discredit him. In this we see the beginning of the Hoover excesses that are part of his legacy to the FBI.

Matt Leach was one of the first local law enforcers who discovered that the FBI did not play well with others. In many of the big cases, the Hoover PR machine ignored the contributions of other agencies in order to enhance the image of the FBI. That, too, is part of the Hoover legacy.

Public Enemies is a great read. Unlike many true crime books it is also solid history. Burrough does a great job separating fact from fiction in his heavily footnoted work.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Duke lacrosse

Robert KC Johnson has another great post. This time he looks at the famous Macfadyen email.

As i noted in his comments, there is another email that deserves some scrutiny: the "i'm going to the police" email that came out around Easter.

If the player did not send it, who did? If the police sent it as a ploy, did they show it to any reporters?
Cherry-picking intelligence

I thought Sen. Rockefeller was opposed to this sort of thing:

THE ENTIRE AFFAIR provides insight into how the game of spinning intelligence is played. The three republican senators explain that they blocked Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee from including the prewar intelligence collected from Sabri in the report. Why? Because the Democrats wanted to include Sabri's denial of a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda--but did not want to include Sabri's testimony about Saddam's ongoing WMD programs.

That is, the Democrats on the Committee wanted to cherry-pick which parts of Sabri's testimony were included and which ones were not. Sabri's prewar testimony on Saddam's WMD programs confirmed other accounts produced by the intelligence community, despite Drumheller's claims otherwise. This would make it difficult for Senators Rockefeller and Levin to claim that the Bush administration "misled" the nation into war

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years on

We didn’t lose almost 3,000 people that day. We lost one wonderful person at a time, almost 3,000 times.

LATER: Steyn--

As UPI’s James Robbins wrote, ‘The Era of Osama lasted about an hour and half or so, from the time the first plane hit the tower to the moment the General Militia of Flight 93 reported for duty.’

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Duke lacrosse: Another shoe drops in Durham

Stuart Taylor noted this point in passing, but now the News and Observer fleshes out the details.

Detective got tough with Duke students

Records show that the sergeant arrested a disproportionate number of Duke students, all on misdemeanor violations such as carrying an open beer on a public sidewalk or violating the city's noise ordinance.

Such charges usually earn an offender a pink ticket such as those issued for speeding. But court records show Gottlieb often arrested Duke students on such charges, taking them to jail in handcuffs
The facts are pretty damning. For instance, in his ten months as a patrol supervisor, "Gottlieb arrested 28 people. Twenty were Duke students." This despite the fact that his district included the "crime-ridden Oxford Manor public housing complex." Further, the other supervisors in his district made 64 arrests in the same period of which only two were Duke students.

This might be worse. Of the twenty students he arrested, he hauled fifteen off to jail in handcuffs. Contrast with this incident:

Gottlieb in 2004 wrote a young man a citation for illegally carrying a concealed .45-caliber handgun and possessing less than a half-ounce of marijuana, but records indicate he wasn't taken to jail. He was not a Duke student.
Just one of those things that make you go hmmm.

Two side notes:

First, this is a good piece of reporting and the N&O deserve credit for it. I cannot help but notice, however, that they tried harder to be fair to Sgt. Gottlieb than they did to the lax team. Contrast this headline and story with the infamous "Team has swaggered for years" (9 April 2006) story that recounted the lax players' misdemeanors.

Or take this quote:

A barrel-chested man, Gottlieb tends to walk with his shoulders back and chin up. Among his colleagues, he is known as outspoken and sometimes headstrong.
Such careful wording. I wonder how it would have read if Gottlieb was a lacrosse player. Would we have seen words like "arrogant", "bullying", or "overbearing"? Maybe even "swaggering"?

Second. Duke parents might want to ask what the administration was doing about a policeman who was targeting Duke students for harsh treatment.

UPDATE: Liestoppers weighs in here.
Steelers nation

I loved this:

No professional team can boast fans that travel quite like the Steelers. They could play in Iraq and there would be 20,000 towel-waving lunatics drinking Iron City with tailgates set up on camels.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pointless sport articles

Most feared? Maybe. So what?

Tom Brady almost started shaking when he first faced Joey Porter? Hmm. Guess it did not last given how the Patriots carved us up in two AFC championship games.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad Porter got some recognition, but this is one of those pointless exercises that magazines use to go after the generation raised on Madden and ESPN. It's all about the big hits and highlight films. It has very little to do with winning football.

The emphasis on yapping and BAM-BOOM-CRUNCH obscures just how good Porter is. His performance in 2005 deserves comparison to Defensive Player of the Year Brian Urlacher. They are equally adept at blowing up plays behind the line of scrimmage. Porter created more turnovers (four forced fumbles and two INTs versus BU's one fumble.) Both can cover as well as knock heads (four passes defensed by JP and five by Urlacher.)

Even Porter's yapping has an element of strategery to it. The Seahawks made sure that he did not beat them in SB XL. But their focus on shutting down JP let Haggans wreck havoc on the other side of the line.

Finally, what the drive by media misses is that JP is a great leader in the locker room and a great teammate. When the defense arrived in Detroit wearing Jerome Bettis's Notre Dame jersey, that was Porter's idea. He was the one who told the Bus to run out of the tunnel first so that his hometown crowd could give him the farewell ovation he deserved at Ford's Field. The defense even honored their coach (coach!) before the Lions game. Again, Porter was the one who had the idea of wearing Dick Lebeau's old jersey.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Disturbing analysis

It also has the ring of truth.
Airline-security incidents seen as terrorist feints

Laura Mansfield, a counterterrorism consultant and Arabic translator, says many of the incidents involve terrorist sympathizers hoping to divert attention from actual terrorists moving forward with real plots.

"There is a combination of things going on. They are trying to get the threat level reduced by creating a bunch of false alarms so people will be complacent. It's also a strategy of red herrings and disinformation," she said
A ghost from blogstorms past

J. Wes Yoder was once at the center of a media grenzy. He was the unnamed stringer who did leg work for Rick Bragg at the New York Times.

At the time time i thought the whole mess was overblown and the product of excitable Andy Sullivan's personal history with Howell Raines.

What was odd at the time was that no one wanted to listen to what Mr. Yoder himself said. Sullivan accused Bragg of exploiting stringers; Yoder explained that he was not exploited. The "get Raines" crowd (many bloggers among them) took excitable Andy's word for it.

Not one of our finer moments.

This New York Observer piece is interesting now that we are three years past the event. (Scroll down, it's in the middle of the column). Wes Yoder is now a novelist, he still speaks highly of Rick Bragg. He even attended Bragg's wedding. So much for the Sullivan "rip-off and exploit thesis."

It is pretty clear in retrospect that that the Bragg scandal was smaller than it seemed.

See also this post.
Beyond red vs. blue

In the heartland the real battle is red vs. green. (Hint: not the Nader Greens; it's more important than that.)

See Julie Neidlinger for more.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fortune and fashion

Business magazines and fashion rags like Vogue have much in common. They both hype the Next New Thing to pump sales. They bounce back and forth, condemning today what they praised six months ago. Black is in, black is out. Skirts are short; skirts must be long and full. Cisco is the best: do what they do. The Cisco game plan is obsolete.

Fashion magazines can do this because they deal with frivolities. There is no factual reason why a little black dress is in or out. All that is required is a pronouncement and some lemmings who care.

Business reporting should be different. It deals with facts: success, failure, market share, and profit. Reality is messy. It does not lend itself to the simplistic dichotomies of in/out. Nonetheless, the biz rags soldier on. Being right is less important than selling a few more copies. Bold pronouncements sell more magazines than nuance.

Take this recent article in Fortune:
Tearing up the Jack Welch playbook

Having spent two decades praising Jack Welch, they now want to bury him. To do so, they have to distort what he actually said and did. Two quick examples:

1. At the end of his tenure at GE, Welch had moved away from the "#1 or #2" rule. It had served its purpose, so he looked for other metrics to focus his company on future growth. Welch even recognized how simple metrics can be gamed by smart executives. There is a highly interesting discussion of this evolution in his book Jack. But Fortune can' be bothered to address that.

2. Charisma vs. courage. Welch showed plenty of courage early on in his tenure at GE. He downsized, divested, acquired, and transformed. He persisted even though he was reviled as "Neutron Jack", destroyer of jobs. His most courageous decision might have been to his heavy investment in management education when he could have helped the short-term bottom-line by cutting out those expenditures. Maintaining long-term strategy in the face of short-term pressures is the sine qua non of CEO courage. Welch has it in spades.

Again, Fortune ignores that part of the Welch record so they can tout their flavor of the month.

More on Welch here and here.