The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information

 TeasersiSteve Blog

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS
Because I’m old, have a decent memory, and did okay on those analogy questions that used to be on the SAT, my frequent response to current news story X is: “X, which everybody thinks is the biggest news story since Noah’s Flood, is a lot like Y, which everybody has forgotten about by now, and which nobody paid all that much attention to even when it was happening.” Or, X is like Y in some other intriguing fashion.
For example, in my July 12th column in Taki’s Magazine, I compared and contrasted the Murdoch voicemail hacking whoop-tee-doo in London to the forgotten Pellicano wiretapping scandal involving countless A-listers in Hollywood (and even some in Washington). 
Generally speaking, my dialogue with the world goes like this:

Me: “Hey, X is kinda like Y.”
The World: [Blank stare]
Me: “No, really, if you stop and think about it, X has a lot of similarities to Y. And the differences between X and Y are interesting and informative, too.”
Lone Representative of the World: “Oh, come on … If X really were like Y, wouldn’t somebody else have noticed?”

Now, Christine Pelisek of Newsweek / The Daily Beast has fleshed out this idea by going to the prison in Big Springs, TX and interviewing private eye Anthony Pellicano about what he thinks of the Murdoch scandal. (Pelisek is a self-made dynamo on the L.A. crime reporting scene, who did impressive work on the seemingly cold Grim Sleeper serial killer case.)

Hollywood Hacker Breaks His Silence 

by Christine Pelisek 

Long before the Murdoch empire’s phone-hacking scandal, Anthony Pellicano was the private eye that stars feared (and used) most. In his first interview since going to prison, he reveals new details on spying for Schwarzenegger, clearing Cruise’s name—and why he dumped Michael Jackson. 

… On this 106-degree summer day, Pellicano has agreed to his first sit-down interview since going to prison in 2008. His case has long since disappeared from the front pages, replaced lately by the News of the World quagmire that has tarred Rupert Murdoch, David Cameron, and Scotland Yard. The way Pellicano sees it, the British phone-hacking scandal is kid stuff. “I was way ahead of my time,” he says. What’s the big deal about some tabloid hijacking Hugh Grant’s voicemails? “If Murdoch’s name wasn’t involved, would there be a story? If someone wiretapped Britney Spears, no one would care. The story is, did Murdoch know people were doing this? Did he condone it? I strongly believe he had no idea.” 

Pellicano claims never to have lent his services to any of Murdoch’s newspapers, and says he met the mogul only once, “but it had to do with Judith Regan,” his former longtime friend, who was fired from News Corp.’s HarperCollins in 2006. (Regan says she never introduced the two men.) “If News of the World called,” he says hypothetically, “I would ask the editor, ‘Why would you want me to do that? Are you stupid?!’ The guy at News of the World was just getting leads for stories.” Pellicano boasts that “I was the top of the ladder. Just to talk to me it cost $25,000. These guys were stringers who worked with reporters to try to get information on a celebrity!”

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Crime, Media 
🔊 Listen RSS
Last October, CNN blowhard Rick Sanchez got fired for giving an interview in which he talked about how he was the victim of prejudice against Hispanics. Well, he didn’t get fired for that part. That’s always okay. What wasn’t okay was when he scoffed at the interviewer’s suggestion that Jon Stewart, a frequent critic of Sanchez, is also an oppressed minority:

Yeah, very powerless people. [laughs] He’s such a minority. I mean, you know, please. What—are you kidding? I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart. And to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority?

To conclusively demonstrate that Jews really are an oppressed minority and don’t have any power in the media business, Sanchez was immediately fired to encourage the others.

But, all’s well that ends well. Less than ten months later, Sanchez has now gotten a part-time job. Well, it’s not actually a job, since he isn’t getting paid to do it. Mediaite reported on July 27:

According to the Miami Herald, ex-CNN anchor Rick Sanchez will be back this fall–on the radio in South Florida–calling football games for the FIU Golden Panthers. … Sanchez says he’s taking the gig to “give something back” to a school he’s close to: “I’m extremely excited to be volunteering my time to Florida International. I’m not getting paid to do this—I just wanted to give something back to the school because FIU has a very special place in my heart: two of my sons now attend FIU and I believe in FIU football.” … 

Sanchez, who’s recently written for Mediaite, has spent his time since leaving CNN working tirelessly to clear his name, left tarnished by the comments he made last fall–calling Jon Stewart a bigot, among other things–that forced him from his high-profile network anchor gig.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Media, Sports 
🔊 Listen RSS
A Place to Stand notes James Delingpole’s reaction to the sudden freakout in Britain over the half-decade old scandal involving one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids hacking into voice mail accounts:

Because the purpose of Murdoch’s BSkyB bid is essentially so that he can set up a UK version of America’s most popular news channel Fox News.

On Jerry Pournelle’s site, Neil Craig explains the business/political background 

This is purely my opinion, but I believe the story, which has been quietly a well known secret for years with almost all papers, including the Guardian, which broke this, hacking at some time or another, is now such a major storm. The BBC’s virtual monopoly of British broadcasting is being threatened by Murdoch’s expansion of his control of Sky, the satellite broadcaster, so they are pushing this story hard. 

Last night (Thurs) the BBC news was almost entirely devoted to the hacking story story; followed by Question Time where all the questions selected by the BBC except for 1 in the last 3 minutes were the same; followed by Andrew Neil on the same. 2 1/2 hours on this story and virtually none on the rest of the world’s news That would be justified if we were seeing a breaking news story like 9/11, but for nothing less. 

Broadcasting in Britain is essentially a monopoly of the BBC and people they approve of. This monopoly is legally committed to “balance,” but is in fact the propaganda arm of the British state (along with the Guardian, which survives on government advertising). Murdoch’s attempt to buy all of Sky would weaken that monopoly slightly. 

I do not consider it a coincidence that this scandal, which journalists of all newspapers have been guilty of for years, has suddenly broken on Murdoch’s head alone.”

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Media 
🔊 Listen RSS
An excerpt from my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

In outline, the current Rupert Murdoch brouhaha in London—powerful media figures are caught employing a private detective to wiretap—is strikingly similar to Hollywood’s 2002-2008 Anthony Pellicano affair, a seemingly juicy imbroglio that never never gained much traction here and has pretty much been forgotten.

As you may recall (if probably only vaguely), numerous stars and moguls, such as Brad Grey, CEO of Paramount Pictures since 2005, paid sleazeball detective Pellicano to dig up—by any means necessary—dirt they could use against less-powerful people.

… The contrasting public reactions to these scandals demonstrate national differences. Nobody cares about private eye Glenn Mulcaire; this scandal has always been intended to bring down Murdoch. In the Pellicano affair, however, the feds let the private dick take the rap for the moguls. 

Moreover, Mulcaire hacked voicemails to publish facts, while Pellicano taped phone calls to intimidate and silence. Pellicano’s modus operandi is in tune with the times here. Our mainstream press routinely colludes with publicists practicing “access journalism.” In return for an interview, journalists agree not to ask impertinent questions or they’ll never work in this town again. A century ago, American reporters tended to be cynical ne’er-do-wells. Today, journalists typically come from the same kind of nice families and nice colleges as the VIPs they gently cover. 

American society has grown increasingly credulous. Our last three presidents have come to office remarkably unknown.

Read the whole thing there, and find out the most famous employer of Anthony Pellicano.
(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Crime, Media, Movies 
🔊 Listen RSS
Update: Mickey Kaus points to a 2004 Los Angeles article  by Ann Louise Bardach suggesting the mother of ex-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child is not the family maid, as a naive reading of today’s news accounts would suggest.
If you are Arnold Schwarzenegger, you employ lots of people besides a cleaning lady. This 2004 article points to a stewardess on Arnold’s Gulfstream jet. (Assuming there’s only one such family retainer Arnold got in a family way.) 
Okay, now the story makes more sense. Arnold has his foibles, but he isn’t Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Mounting the maid while she’s vacuuming might be standard operating procedure in International Monetary Fund circles, but Hollywood action heroes are expected to show more discretion and stick to the Gulfstream.

UPDATE: According the Brit Daily Mail, there are two love children and the second mother is indeed the maid.

By the way, speaking of antitrust, that 2004 article raises some interesting points about the broad political effect of the fairly recent monopolization of supermarket tabloids by AMI.

The tabs will pay for stories and hire private investigators, so they get juicier stories about important people than does the prestige press (e.g., Gennifer Flowers). However, in the 1990s, they were all consolidated under the ownership of AMI (the first victims of the anthrax mad scientist, by the way), because nobody much cares about enforcing antitrust laws anymore.

Then, in the early 2000s, AMI bought the Weider magazines for muscleheads, like Men’s Fitness.

This provided a lot of synergy. For example, when AMI’s National Enquirer obtained a photo a number of years ago of Tiger Woods in a parking lot with a local waitress, they spiked publication in return for Tiger flexing his new performance-enhanced bicep on the cover of AMI’s Men’s Fitness magazine and allowing an interview with his musclehead trainer. This 2007 story may have offered us our first clue into the ongoing physical collapse of America’s most famous athlete. (Notice the lattice of coincidence?)
On the other hand, Arnold had a long relationship with the Weider interests, which apparently got transferred over to AMI. With the tabloids now financially in bed with Arnold, he was free to run for governor of California in 2003 without the tabs doing much snooping about his ever-interesting life story.

By the way, what are the chances that M. Strauss-Kahn, a 62-year-old with more energy than a frat boy on spring break, might have a prescription for some kind of chemical enhancement, like Arnold, Tiger, and Joe Weider?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Golf, Media, Politicians 
🔊 Listen RSS
From the Daily Caller, an interesting account of how press coverage is shaped by partisanship, rage, and behind-the-scenes threats of ostracism:

It was the moment of greatest peril for then-Sen. Barack Obama’s political career. In the heat of the presidential campaign, videos surfaced of Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, angrily denouncing whites, the U.S. government and America itself. Obama had once bragged of his closeness to Wright. Now the black nationalist preacher’s rhetoric was threatening to torpedo Obama’s campaign.

The crisis reached a howling pitch in mid-April, 2008, at an ABC News debate moderated by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. Gibson asked Obama why it had taken him so long – nearly a year since Wright’s remarks became public – to dissociate himself from them. Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”

Watching this all at home were members of Journolist, a listserv comprised of several hundred liberal journalists, as well as like-minded professors and activists. The tough questioning from the ABC anchors left many of them outraged. “George [Stephanopoulos],” fumed Richard Kim of the Nation, is “being a disgusting little rat snake.”

Others went further. According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.

In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

Michael Tomasky, a writer for the Guardian, also tried to rally his fellow members of Journolist: “Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the [mainstream media] kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”

“Richard Kim got this right above: ‘a horrible glimpse of general election press strategy.’ He’s dead on,” Tomasky continued. “We need to throw chairs now, try as hard as we can to get the call next time. Otherwise the questions in October will be exactly like this. This is just a disease.”…

Thomas Schaller, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun as well as a political science professor, upped the ante from there. In a post with the subject header, “why don’t we use the power of this list to do something about the debate?” Schaller proposed coordinating a “smart statement expressing disgust” at the questions Gibson and Stephanopoulos had posed to Obama.

“It would create quite a stir, I bet, and be a warning against future behavior of the sort,” Schaller wrote….

The members began collaborating on their open letter. Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones rejected an early draft, saying, “I’d say too short. In my opinion, it doesn’t go far enough in highlighting the inanity of some of [Gibson's] and [Stephanopoulos’s] questions. And it doesn’t point out their factual inaccuracies …Our friends at Media Matters probably have tons of experience with this sort of thing, if we want their input.” [I bet they do!]

Jared Bernstein, who would go on to be Vice President Joe Biden’s top economist when Obama took office, helped, too. The letter should be “Short, punchy and solely focused on vapidity of gotcha,” Bernstein wrote.

In the midst of this collaborative enterprise, Holly Yeager, now of the Columbia Journalism Review, dropped into the conversation to say “be sure to read” a column in that day’s Washington Post that attacked the debate.

Columnist Joe Conason weighed in with suggestions. So did Slate contributor David Greenberg, and David Roberts of the website Grist. Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, helped too.

Journolist members signed the statement and released it April 18, calling the debate “a revolting descent into tabloid journalism and a gross disservice to Americans concerned about the great issues facing the nation and the world.”

The letter caused a brief splash and won the attention of the New York Times. But only a week later, Obama – and the journalists who were helping him – were on the defensive once again.

Jeremiah Wright was back in the news after making a series of media appearances. At the National Press Club, Wright claimed Obama had only repudiated his beliefs for “political reasons.” Wright also reiterated his charge that the U.S. federal government had created AIDS as a means of committing genocide against African Americans.

It was another crisis, and members of Journolist again rose to help Obama.

Chris Hayes of the Nation posted on April 29, 2008, urging his colleagues to ignore Wright. Hayes directed his message to “particularly those in the ostensible mainstream media” who were members of the list. [Emphasis mine.]

The Wright controversy, Hayes argued, was not about Wright at all. Instead, “It has everything to do with the attempts of the right to maintain control of the country.”

Hayes castigated his fellow liberals for criticizing Wright. “All this hand wringing about just how awful and odious Rev. Wright remarks are just keeps the hustle going.”…

Hayes urged his colleagues – especially the straight news reporters who were charged with covering the campaign in a neutral way – to bury the Wright scandal. “I’m not saying we should all rush en masse to defend Wright. If you don’t think he’s worthy of defense, don’t defend him! What I’m saying is that there is no earthly reason to use our various platforms to discuss what about Wright we find objectionable,” Hayes said.

…“Part of me doesn’t like this shit either,” agreed Spencer Ackerman, then of the Washington Independent. “But what I like less is being governed by racists and warmongers and criminals.” Ackerman went on:

I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.

And I think this threads the needle. If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.

Ackerman did allow there were some Republicans who weren’t racists. “We’ll know who doesn’t deserve this treatment — Ross Douthat, for instance — but the others need to get it.”

He also said he had begun to implement his plan. “I previewed it a bit on my blog last week after Commentary wildly distorted a comment Joe Cirincione made to make him appear like (what else) an antisemite. So I said: why is it that so many on the right have such a problem with the first viable prospective African-American president?”

Several members of the list disagreed with Ackerman – but only on strategic grounds.

… Kevin Drum, then of Washington Monthly, also disagreed with Ackerman’s strategy. “I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Obama is trying (or says he’s trying) to run a campaign that avoids precisely the kind of thing Spencer is talking about, and turning this into a gutter brawl would probably hurt the Obama brand pretty strongly. After all, why vote for him if it turns out he’s not going change the way politics works?”

But it was Ackerman who had the last word. “Kevin, I’m not saying OBAMA should do this. I’m saying WE should do this.”

The basic question in electoral campaigns is: “Whose side are you on?” Candidate Obama had repeatedly boasted that he was on Rev. Wright’s side. Rev. Wright had spent a long career making clear whose side he was on, such as holding a gala at the Chicago Hyatt Regency in November 2007 to give his personal Lifetime Achievement Award to the Hon. Louis Farrakhan.
This kind of thing was kept largely on the down-low (although it was readily apparent to anybody with Internet access who wanted to find out) by concerted efforts of the press until after 42 out of 50 states had voted in the primaries, when finally videotapes of Rev. Wright got on-line. Obama then gave an eloquent speech full of half-truths and outright lies, which the press triumphantly accepted. Eventually Wright got back from his ocean cruise and in April Wright pointed out that Obama had lied in order to become President. That caused a brief flurry, but Obama lied some more, and the press and John McCain accepted it.
End of story

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Media, Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

I recently read The Prince of Darkness, the 2007 autobiography of the late Washington reporter and TV commentator Robert D. Novak, who died last August. It’s a quite distinctive memoir that nicely conveys Novak’s love of ferreting out individual facts — it’s a book that will prove useful to future historians of politics and the press in understanding how reporters got scoops and what their incentives were — and his aversion to the kind of Big Picture synthesizing that’s the norm in an autobiography.

It’s the opposite of Dreams from My Father: Novak realizes the reader is mostly interested in accounts of what the big names he met over the years (from JFK through GWB) were really like, and limits himself to giving his side of various historical events he was involved in, such as the Valerie Plame affair, and recounting data about himself that is useful in understanding the media.

Although he dislikes summing up, Novak is candid that getting a scoop (and Novak probably got more Washington scoops, large and small, than anybody) depends upon serving the self-interest of whoever is doing the leaking. (Lead and Gold has more about Novak’s book here.) Still, knowledge is better than ignorance.

For example, Novak reports how much money he made at various points in his life: e.g., when he works for the AP in Omaha in 1954, he made $68 per week. In a characteristic touch that I’ve never seen in any other autobiography, Novak almost always adjusts his income for inflation. That mythological-sounding $68 per week turns out to be the rather more prosaic equivalent of “$512 in 2006 purchasing power.”

On the last page, Novak writes:

Memoirists often are explicit in reporting their skimpy salaries in their early years and become reticent when monetary success comes. Breaking that pattern, I will disclose that my adjusted gross income for 2004 reached a high of $1.2 million.

The dyspeptic Novak’s general impressions are few but worth recounting. After leaving sportswriting, the first major politician he ever met as a political reporter, the governor of Nebraska, turned out to be “considerably less impressive than the athletic coaches who up until then had been my most intimate news sources. But so were nearly all the legislators. This first impression of the political class did not change appreciably in a half century of sustained contact. … I did not find the caliber of politicians in Washington generally any higher than what I had encountered in Indianapolis and Lincoln.”

The President who seems to have impressed the conservative journalist the most for general caliber is one he liked little politically: Bill Clinton. Strikingly, Novak’s blunt opinions extended to himself. He recounts sitting next to Clinton for four hours at a Gridiron Club dinner during the Monica Lewinsky year. Clinton deftly talked to Novak about his passion, college basketball, but mostly talked to the guest on his other side, conservative press baron Conrad Black (who later went to jail over his finances), about Black’s interest, FDR. Novak modestly writes:

That night, these two strong, complicated men enjoyed themselves talking about another strong complicated man. Beyond that, I think Clinton and Black liked each other because they both were intelligent, reckless, charismatic risk-takers. I simply was not in their class.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Media, Politics 
🔊 Listen RSS

Mickey Kaus should appreciate The Onion’s “Media Having Trouble Finding Right Angle on Obama’s Double-Homicide:”

So far, the president’s double-homicide has not been covered by any major news outlets. The only two mentions of the heinous tragedy have been a 100-word blurb on the Associated Press wire and an obituary on page E7 of this week’s edition of the Lake County Examiner.

While Obama has expressed no remorse for the grisly murders—point-blank shootings with an unregistered .38-caliber revolver—many journalists said it would be irresponsible for the press to sensationalize the story.

“There’s been some debate around the office about whether we should report on this at all,” Washington Post senior reporter Bill Tracy said while on assignment at a local dog show. “It’s enough of a tragedy without the press jumping in and pointing fingers or, worse, exploiting the violence. Plus, we need to be sensitive to the victims’ families at this time. Their loved ones were brutally, brutally murdered, after all.”

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Media 
🔊 Listen RSS

My American Conservative article is now up:

La Raza’s Lapdogs
By Steve Sailer
Straight talk about immigration: another job Americans won’t do.

Here are some more excerpts:

1. An aversion to working with numbers is common among intellectuals and media types. For instance, it’s of some relevance to crafting immigration policy to know that 5 billion people live in countries with lower average per capita GDPs than Mexico. About a fifth of the 135 million people in the world of Mexican descent now reside in America, and another 40 million Mexicans tell pollsters they’d like to immigrate here. That suggests that if the Wall Street Journal editorial board had its way, and there were a constitutional amendment declaring, “There shall be open borders,” at least a billion foreigners would try to move here. At a minimum, this quick estimate suggests that the WSJ’s immigration views are mad. Yet these numbers are not at all well-known because few in public life have bothered to do the simple calculations required.

2. Views on illegal immigration may be the surest status symbol. A blithe attitude toward illegal immigration conveys your self-confidence that you don’t have to worry about competition from Latin American peasants and that you can afford to insulate your children from their children. Moreover, your desire to keep down the wages of nannies, housekeepers, and pool boys by importing more cheap labor advertises that you are a member of the servant-employing upper-middle class.

3. While libertarians enjoy displaying their feelings of economic superiority— their Randian confidence that they can claw their way to the top of the heap no matter how overcrowded it gets—liberals feel that laxity on illegal immigration shows off their moral superiority. Celebrating diversity has been promoted for a generation now as the highest imaginable ethical value, so the ambitious compete to be seen espousing most fervently the reigning civic religion and damning most loudly any heretics who dare to speak up. [More]

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
The evidence is clear — but often ignored
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?