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CounterPunch Diary
If you want a sense of what could well lie in store for Syria, go no further than Anthony Shadid’s report from Libya in the New York Times for February 9. Shadid, a good reporter, describes a dismembered country, rent by banditry: One martial enterprise of some of these Misuratan militias is to attack a... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Having spent many weeks amidst the Strauss-Kahn case listening the locals assert that America's justice is superior to France's, we're now pitchforked into the next debate: could US journalism sink to the septic depths of the scandal-ridden News of the World whose immediate closure Murdoch's News International announced Thursday, and one of whose former editors,... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Fox News says Glenn Beck's daily program will "transition" off the network show some time before the end of this year. Beck cosigned the statement and confirmed this on his show on Wednesday, speaking vaguely of sustaining the two-year relationship with Fox by "developing things". He sounded shell-shocked, like a man who'd been shown the... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
I read the anguished valedictories to our sinking newspaper industry, the calls for some sort of government bailout or subsidy, with mounting incredulity. It’s like hearing the witches in Macbeth evoked as if they were Aphrodite and her rivals vying for the judgment of Paris. Sonorous phrases about “public service” mingle with fearful yelps about... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
When I was a lad of fourteen, at school in Scotland, a news mogul tycoon called Roy Thompson used five simple words to describe the higher purpose of commercial television. 1955 was the year the BBC lost its monopoly on TV provision in Britain. The government handed out licenses to new broadcasting companies which, unlike... Read More
CounterPunch Diary You Want More Still Proofs the Crony, Old-Line Press is Dead?
What have been the two hot stories this summer, helping us survive the arid steppes of the presidential campaign? Without a doubt, story number one has John Edwards’s love affair and love child. Story number two has been the suicide of one of the U.S. government’s top anthrax men, Bruce Ivins. CounterPunchers, I’m glad to... Read More
Palmyra, Obama and Pascal's Bet
These days, it’s an almost irresistible temptation to believe that when the present incumbent finally rides his mountain bike off into the sunset next January the world will be a better place merely by the fact of his absence. Amid the sinister twilight of the Bush years, such hopes are understandable. Looking at the blazing... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Was there ever a luckier clan than the Bancrofts, whose elders okayed the $5 billion sale of the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. on Tuesday. There’s been some solemn talk about the Bancrofts’ “stewardship of this national institution” since they acquired the Dow Jones company a century ago. In fact the Journal... Read More
Imus and the HeeHaw Racists
Like many of the heehaw racists strewn across the cable dial and AM frequencies, Don Imus must be wondering why this time he got his tongue caught in the wringer. It was suddenly news that Imus shored up his ratings with racist cracks at blacks and Hispanics? Only at the start of April he went... Read More
Across these ten pages runs a sober, carefully reported narrative by a well-respected reporter, Christopher Ketcham. He’s a journalist whom publications such as Harper’s and Salon.com have been happy to publish. Indeed, it was in May of 2002 that Salon published a 9,000- word story by Ketcham on the socalled Israeli “art students” whose curious... Read More
The Surge Pushers
The war in Iraq, one of the most disastrous military enterprises in the history of the Republic, has the New York Times' fingerprints all over it. The role the newspaper played in fomenting the 2003 attack is now one of the best known sagas in journalistic history, as embodied in the reports of Judy Miller,... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
A.M. Rosenthal died last week at the age of 84. There were respectful obituaries describing how Rosenthal "saved" the NYT in the 70s by pepping up its news coverage, introducing the supplements and so forth. By the same token Rosenthal sowed the seeds for the Times' present difficulties. He was a bully with the bully's... Read More
Mainstream Press Tries to Prove It Still Matters
Forget the awards for hurricane coverage. They were predictable and certainly in the case of the Times Picayune and probably the Biloxi paper, deserved. The press thrives on disasters and rare is the year when a photographer cannot extract a prize from the dead or dying in an African famine, a Turkish earthquake or an... Read More
Nicholas Kristof's Brothel Problem
I'd got so used to Nicholas Kristof's January visits to prostitutes in Cambodia that it was a something of a shock to find him this January in Calcutta's red light district instead. As readers of his New York Times columns across the past three years will know, Kristof heads into south east Asia around this... Read More
The New York Times and the NSA's Illegal Spying Operation
Lowe's magnificent editorial was written in response to the claim of a government minister that if the press hoped to share the influence of statesmen it "must also share in the responsibilities of statesmen". It's a long, sad decline from what Lowe wrote in 1851 to the disclosure by the New York Times on Friday... Read More
How the CIA Paid for Judy Miller's Stories
The Bush era has brought a robust simplicity to the business of news management: where possible, buy journalists to turn out favorable stories and, as far as hostiles are concerned, if you think you can get away with it, shoot them or blow them up. As with much else in the Bush era, the novelty... Read More
From Reporter to Courtier
It's been a devastating fall for what are conventionally regarded as the nation's two premier newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Times's travails and the downfall of its erstwhile star reporter, Judy Miller, have been newsprint's prime soap opera since late spring and now, just when we were taking a breather... Read More
When Tedium is Totalizing
Years ago, when the nightly program was mandatory viewing in every liberal home from Montauk to Santa Monica, I wrote a parody of the McNeil-Lehrer Show, as it was then called before McNeil hailed down his colors and moved on. The piece ran in Harpers, and though it was prompted a good deal of laughter,... Read More
From Kobe Bryant to Uncle Sam
I read a piece about Kobe Bryant a couple of days ago. The way it described his fall made me think of Bryant as a parable of America in the Bush years, that maybe even W himself could understand. No longer the big guy leading the winning team to victory over Commie scum, but a... Read More
Ronald Reagan in Truth and Fiction (and Yes, He Doomed the Crew of the Challenger)
Pentagon Cartoons They keep talking about Reagan being a "big picture" man, indifferent to petty detail. The phrase gives a false impression, as though Reagan looked out at the world as though at some Cinemascope epic, a vast battlefield where, through those famous spectacles (one lense close-up, for speech reading, the other long-distance) he could... Read More
"Bye, Bye Boonville; Hello Eugene!"
By year's end the greatest newspaper in the United States will have relocated from California's North Coast to Eugene, Oregon. Bruce Anderson is leaving Boonville. The Anderson Valley Advertiser will become The Eugene AVA. Be advised: what follows is no mock heroic paean with tongue in cheek. I write as a 19-year contributor to the... Read More
Modified Come Down at the New York Times
On May 26 the New York Times finally hitched up its pants, took a deep breath and issued an editorial declaration of moderate regret for its role in boosting the case for war on Iraq. There was a bit of dutiful trumpet-tootling at the start ("we found an enormous amount of journalism that we are... Read More
CounterPunch Diary The Decline and Fall of American Journalism (Part LXV): the Case of Judy Miller
As a million Shi'ite pilgrims streamed toward Karbala earlier this week, shouting "No to America, no to Saddam, no to tyranny, no to Israel!" (slogans recorded by a reporter for Agence France Presse) can't you just imagine the plash of complacent 'I Told Him So's' from the lips of George Bush Sr., on the phone... Read More
Hacks and Heroes: Meet the New Yorker's Goldberg; Israeli Draft Resisters; Bulworth Screenwriter Lashes New York Times; Are Drunks' Dreams Corrupt?
Who's the hack? I nominate The New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg. He's the new Remington, though without the artistic talent. Back in 1898, William Randolph Hearst was trying to fan war fever between the United States and Spain. He dispatched a reporter and the artist Frederic Remington to Cuba to send back blood-roiling depictions of Spanish... Read More
Republican strategists are jubilant over a New York Times (Thursday, Aug 1) front-page story by Jeff Gerth and Richard Stevenson that effectively damps the bonfire of public suspicion over Cheney's business ethics, dousing it with a thick blanket of cautious qualifiers, clogged syntax and now-you-see-it, no-you-don't insinuation. Connoisseurs of Gerth's prose noted familiar features: excessive... Read More
Daniel Pearl's dispatches reminded me somewhat of Peter Kann's in the days when he was the Journal's most light-heartedly stylish reporter, before assuming the imperial purple and becoming the company's CEO. It was Kann, back in the late 1970s, who traveled to Afghanistan, reported that the place was a dump covered with flies and that... Read More
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