Saturday, May 17, 2003
HE WHO MUST BE OBEYED ... NOT!:
TBogg has fun with Sullivan�s slight inability to obey the boyfriend�s desperate plea to stop blogging about Raines for a little while at least.
posted by Sully 5/17/2003 12:25:00 PM
In the course of clocking how long it takes for Sullivan to take note that some of the evidence against British Labor MP George Galloway, whom Sullivan has all but convicted of treason despite the absence of a declared war, we should take note of a commentator at Sawicky�s site who says the documents the Mail on Sunday paid for are, according to the Christian Science Monitor, not the same as the one they found.
Of course, we don�t know whether the Monitor and the Mail on Sunday have actually sat down and compared what they had. It may well have been some Iraqi general�s attempt to profit from the story as the commentator suggests. But it still casts the evidence into some doubt, and, to quote Sullivan, the story is far from over.
posted by Sully 5/17/2003 12:21:00 PM
YET ANOTHER MAGAZINE ARTICLE EXCERPT (THIS ONE CURRENT):
After reading about it on MWO, we trekked out to the nearest finer supermarket around us to get the latest issue of Vanity Fair so we could read James Wolcott�s column on p. 86, which, in the course of cutting a swath through the increasingly tame American media around George W. Bush, touches (if you can use that word) on Sullivan.
The Blog Queen doesn�t actually manifest himself until p. 98, when Wolcott once again proves why he is one of America�s most percepetive and acerbic critics by tagging Sullivan with a nickname we absolutely have to add to our stable:
... The increased penetration of BBC radio and TV news, carried here by a number of NPR and PBS stations, has been met with fierce resistance from writer and blogger Andrew Sullivan.
A former redcoat, the British-born, Oxford-educated, gay, Tory Catholic has become as zealous as the late Roy Cohn in sniffing out subversives wherever he finds them, which is usually wherever he points his nose. Before the war against Iraq began, Sullivan warned of enemies within who would stop at no metaphor or flaming-baton trick to undermine American resolve and values. He flung the highly-charged phrase �Fifth Column� at suspected traitors, fellow travelers and wormy professors who always blame America first � you know, the usual suspects. To Yankee Doodle Andy, the BBC has emerged as the chief propaganda arm of the enemy without, the �Tokyo Rose� of the desert war, whose initials now stand for Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation. As the indispensable Bob Somerby on the watchdog website The Daily Howler has documented, at least one of Sullivan�s examples of BBC bias is incorrect or an outright fib. When facts are faulty, escalate the rhetoric. On March 26, Sullivan wrote in his daily blog:
Remember one of the key elements, we�re finding out, in this battle is the willingness of the Iraqi people to stand up to the Saddamite remnants ... What the BBC is able to do, by broadcasting directly to these people, is to keep the Iraqi people�s morale as far down as possible, thereby helping to make the war more bloody, thereby helping to discredit it in retrospect. If you assume that almost all these reporters and editors are anti-war, this BBC strategy makes sense. They�re a military player. And they are objectively pro-Saddam.
It is this kind of writing and reasoning that confirms the prudence of Howell Raines�s decision to punt Sullivan�s saucy butt out of the pages of The New York Times Magazine. Understand the import of what he is alleging. The former editor of The New Republic is accusing the BBC of having slanted the war from the gloomiest angle in a deliberate ploy to prolong the conflict, boost the casualty toll, and undercut the coalition. �Objectively pro-Saddam� (ironic seeing the sort of dishonest formulation that Orwell deplored spouted by an avowed Orwell devotee like Sullivan), the BBC intentionally discouraged Iraqis from opposing the fedayeen in order to advance its own anti-American agenda. If the BBC is a �military player� assisting coalition foes, why not bomb its control center at Bush House in London?
(Links added, of course)
�Yankee Doodle Andy.� WE LOVE IT! We�re already working on new lyrics to the song ...
Thanks so much, James!!!
posted by Sully 5/17/2003 12:11:00 PM
�NOW THINGS ARE REALLY WHAT THEY SEEM/ NO, THIS IS NO BAD DREAM�:
�How to explain tha lack of WMDs in Iraq�? Maybe because you insist on gangsta rap sellings?
Seriously, while we could just carp on how Sullivan was predicting we�d eventually find this and now he seems convinced there were none to find, he takes comfort in Jim Lacey�s explanation that, see, Saddam�s underlings were so good that they not only fooled Saddam into thinking he had WMDs, they fooled our own �competent bodies.� (This, of course, begs the question: does Lacey consider that maybe the intel people took that into account? We particularly like the quoted sentence: �In the event that we do not find the WMD smoking gun this is the only explanation that would make any sense.� No, you mean it�s the only explanation that would save any face)
Of course, this dodge is necessary for conservatives who need to avoid the obvious implication: if there were no WMDs, then the war was far less justified. And given the growing evidence that our intelligence services, in both Britain and the U.S. did in fact know that the WMD threat was greatly overblown and found evidence twisted and distorted or, famously, an outright forgery like the Niger documents used (one that was known to be a forgery for at least a year), there is only one more obvious conclusion � that the Bush administration was lying to us knowingly to further a war it needed fought for other purposes, so Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle can play their little AEI Middle East Europe Risk game (remember, within hours of 9/11 Cheney wanted it pinned on Iraq if at all possible) from the chessboard comfort of Chevy Chase.
(Quiddity Quack has the lowdown on just what has turned out not to be true, or greatly exaggerated, so far).
And just what are we to make of this conclusion:
But the bottom line of Lacey's argument is that our intelligence caused Bush and Blair to commit extraordinary errors in front of the entire world.
�Extraordinary errors� ... what a fine way to define the deaths of perhaps a couple of thousand civilians, the replacement of tyranny with anarchy and a policy headache for the U.S. and U.K. for years to come. This is as close to an antiwar statement as anything Sullivan has ever said. One wonders what the Andrew of two or three weeks ago would have said in response.
Of course, we all were mentioning that things like this could happen, for weeks before the war, but did anybody take the argument seriously? No, we were all supposed to be a bucnh of rabid Bush-haters who were all praying for the deaths of thousands of American troops so we could get Democrats elected.
posted by Sully 5/17/2003 12:16:00 AM
Friday, May 16, 2003
EVEN THE CONSERVATIVE ...:
No More Mister Nice Blog notes that the New York Post is worried that we�re screwing things up in Iraq. And he joins in the pileup on Cavuto, along with The Mighty Reason Man.
posted by Sully 5/16/2003 01:13:00 PM
�MONEY ... IT�S A HIT�:
If Sullivan wants to raise the subject of Blair managing to pay off $4,000 in overdue credit, it�s only fair that we hear a better explanation than he�s given so far for how he made enough money to pay down the mortgage on his Adams Morgan pleasure palace:
Sullivan is a confirmed capitalist. He paid off the mortgage on this $185,000 apartment and bought the Provincetown place by trading stocks online during the Nasdaq boom (and partially bailed before the crash because of "Catholic guilt" over making too much money).
Yeah, and William Bennett broke even on the slots.
posted by Sully 5/16/2003 01:04:00 PM
THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT ARCHIVED ONLINE:
Some other blogger, in the context of Sullivan�s recent gibberings about his kinda-sorta culpability in the Shalit affair, mentioned the story about Shalit in an early issue of the now-defunct George.
That sent one of us wandering up to the attic, certain that in some corner there was still an archive of the late John Kennedy Jr.�s legacy to the world.
At first all that appeared were stacks of old Wireds and TNRs. While this makes an interesting 1990s time capsule, dreams of possible future eBay glory were disappearing until the Georges were found stacked in the corner, their spines facing away, leaving them mistaken at first for more of the former magazine.
Anyhow, from the Feb/Mar 1996 ish, the one with Charles Barkley on the cover, here are excerpts from �The Truth About Ruth� (p. 122) which reveal how Sullivan really was handling a similar problematic hotshot young journalist when he was unaware he would be chortling over a similar affair years later when it injured someone he hated for firing him.
The article, written before Shalit had finally used up the patience of the magazine with repeated plagiarism, begins with the epigraph: ��She�s what a journalist should be. Dangerous.�� Andrew Sullivan, editor, The New Republic.� And yes, she was dangerous alright, but ultimately more to her employers than her subjects.
One interesting point comes on p. 151, before the writer, Lisa DePaulo, gets to talking to Sullivan. It concerns a story she wrote for Reason about the last days of the Bush campaign:
In the article she managed to vividly reconstruct meetings that she had never attended, and to annoy more than a few Bushies, who didn�t know that the sweet kid with the stammer and the Valley Girl voice was taking notes. One person she told all on, Mary Matalin, whom she never called to interview, says today that each of the story�s three references to her were �complete fabrications� � such as the account of Matalin cleaning out her office a week before the election. Matalin said she had been on the road and not in her office since before Labor Day. �She�s an interesting writer,� says Matalin. �She�s just not a truthful one.� (�There were boxes outside her office,� replies Shalit).
Can this be made any clearer? Shalit, even at the outset of her career, was not just a plagiarist, she too was making things up. Notice how her reply is similar to Stephen Glass�s tactic of insisting to Charles Lane that the hacker conference he made up really happened (and BTW, what ended that whole charade was not that trip, it was Lane putting two and two together and realizing that the supposed victim of the hack, a computer executive in Palo Alto, might really be Glass�s brother, and asking Glass point blank about that.
In fact, we�ve got a pretty good suspicion that what motivated Glass was at least the fact that Shalit was never fully called to account for this (which she may have done at TNR as well) and he was trying to show up Wieseltier (Shalit�s reputed protector at TNR).
Moving on a graf or two:
TNR editor Andrew Sullivan says he tends not to get �dewy-eyed� about fresh talent, but nonetheless knew early on she was a major one. He was amazed not only at how many players she coudl get to talk to her, but how much she could get out of them. �She can charm birds from trees,� said Sullivan, adding that �one of her great gifts is her ability to be disarming. In this sexist city, she gets all these big fat white guys to relax, and before they know it, she�s stitched them up.�
The quirkiness took many forms. Shalit was well-known for being a �total klutz,� as Sullivan says. �I�ve watched her spill an entire cup of coffee down her front while she�s talking to me. The other day she walked into a filing cabinet.�
Awwww. Did Widdle Pwecious hurt herself? There there ... Uncle Andy will kiss it and make it all better.
And don�t think she didn�t know how to play The Sage of South Goodstone the way Blair played Boyd and Raines:
�Andrew likes to say �the politics of,� �the culture of,�� says one former staffer. �She�d hear him say things like that and the next day, it was part of her vocabulary. �How�s your story going, Ruth?� �Well, I have the politics of it, but not the anthropology of it.� Real strange.�
Finally, on p. 155, as the article is wrapping up, we get the money grafs:
Her editors, for the most part, continue to stand by Shalit, though they too are being criticized for riding the controversy when, in fact they are, to some degree, responsible for it. �Andrew doesn�t give a shit,� says one former TNR staffer. �Good buzz, bad buzz, as long as it�s buzz.�
Sullivan says he does give a shit � �We take this very seriously; sloppiness is unforgivable� � but he also believes his prodigy is �overextended. I told her from the beginning she shouldn�t be doing all this freelance.�
So, while it�s unforgivable, it�s not inexcusable, apparently.
Maybe he should change his name to Howell Sullivan.
By the way, Jim, to answer your question, there is post-1999 evidence of Ruth Shalit. As you probably know, she eventually left journalism for advertising, then split the difference by becoming Salon�s ad industry columnist in 1997 or so.
However, in late 2000 she wrote a story for them which later led to the accusation that she had � surprise! � fabricated quotes, in one case to some considerable humiliation of the person involved. Even after a seven-paragraph correction and a reposting of the amended story, the people allegedly victimized said she had still put words in their mouths, and sometime in early 2001 she and Salon seem to have quietly ended her journalism career. Since then, no trace.
posted by Sully 5/16/2003 12:39:00 PM
ALSO FROM THE LETTERS PAGE:
The NYT has come clean about what happened with Blair. They are looking at what went wrong and trying to figure it out. I mean, it�s not like Raines told the idiot to fabricate anything. They got duped as well as the rest of us.
I guess I missed your site becoming flawless. You have (often) made errors, trusting journalists and occasional rumor mongers at face value, and rushed to more than a few premature conclusions. When you have been wrong you acknowledged it, corrected it, and we all moved on. Time for you to do the same. Gloating is not a family value.
Actually, he�s left quite a few errors uncorrected � readers of his site, and it alone, would believe that there was once an '80s pop group called the Go Go Girls, or that Al Sharpton was criminally convicted of libel in the Pagones trial, among other things.
And another reader writes:
I was a bit taken aback that you would label Lee Siegel a "poseur" given his musings on cats in Slate. Certainly his comments were more than a bit twee, but try to imagine how someone could just as easily use the same categorization for your own rhapsodies on the changing seasons in Provincetown that pop up from time to time in your blog.
To say the least.
posted by Sully 5/16/2003 12:01:00 PM
WHILE WE�RE ON THE SUBJECT OF STORIES TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE:
We learn tonight from Max Sawicky that some of the evidence against George Galloway has turned out to be authentic ... fakes:
But the documents, offered by former Republican Guard General Salah Abdel Rasool, contain obvious mistakes.
A scrawl claimed to be Mr Galloway�s signature on �receipts� has no similarity to his real one.
The operation, revealed by the Mail on Sunday, also threw up glaring misspellings of Iraqi officers� names and mistakes in the title of Saddam�s son Qusay, also said to have signed the document.
But then again, when you�ve bought into those Niger forgeries as a pretext for war, that should be good enough for you, right?
Will he complain about the U.S. media not picking up on this one?
posted by Sully 5/16/2003 12:14:00 AM
Thursday, May 15, 2003
OF COURSE SID WILL FORGIVE YOU ...:
As Steve also notes, Sullivan gave Blumenthal the book blurb from heaven, the one that will make sure that all those of us who have devoured The Hunting of the President, Blinded by the Right, What Liberal Media? and The Woman Who Wouldn�t Talk also will find this indispensable.
He pretty much gets to the one-sentence gist of Sully�s review:
Blumenthal is a Democratic loyalist who doesn�t much like Republicans, and his book reflects that. Apparently, this is utterly remarkable to Sullivan
Blumenthal�s reception among conservatives, in fact, reminds us of the way Celtics fans used to single out Jack Nicholson for special abuse during their teams� contests for championships with the LA Lakers in the �80s, with the entirety of Boston Garden cheerfully chanting �FUCK YOU JACK!! FUCK YOU JACK!!� Deep down inside this masked a great deal of respect, for Nicholson was one of the few people who was a Lakers� fan in the way Celtics� fans were Celtics� fans, much as Blumenthal was a relentlessly partisan advocate for Democrats in the way (insert conservative of your choice here) was and is for conservative Republicans.
We just have some comments of our own:
His critics assume that he holds the usual liberal notions of what constitutes professional journalism, and has betrayed them. But he doesn�t and he hasn�t.
So, are we tacitly admitting here that no conservative deserves the title �journalist�?
In fact, the only reason Mr. Blumenthal ever gives for opposition to Mr. Clinton is resentment that he was elected in the first place.
An assessment which is actually well-founded. Conservatives always figured, post-Reagan, that the country had changed and would never ever elect a liberal again, that only a Democrat who was as conservative as Reagan would ascend, that the liberalism that they so viscerally hated and struggled against was vanquished for good in the dust of the Berlin Wall. No matter how much they despised Bush, they still wanted him to win. We also distinctly recall that some conservatives made a point of noting that Clinton won with barely 40 percent of the popular vote or so, and Dick Armey telling his Democratic colleagues �Your president is not all that important to us.�
Believe it or not, some conservatives still hold, privately, to a theory that suggests Clinton and Perot colluded to dilute the vote for Bush and Dole, and that's the only way he could get elected. Also remember that it was conservatives who tried to justify the impeachment partially on the grounds that the 1996 election was �stolen� because of the Clinton campaign�s alleged use of funny money in the so-called �stealth� soft-money ads. Clinton�s election aroused a lot of resentment among conservatives, who somehow had been so busy listening to each other talk that they assumed the whole country felt the same way as them.
I�ll leave the endless sifting of claim and counterclaim to the people who still care who said what to Brock via Ingraham about Willey or Goldberg. A few years later, it seems beyond petty and vicious. From the viewpoint of history, it�s going to seem deranged.
Always the excuse of those who have something in their past they are not proud of. History needs to know this. The guilty have not yet been anywhere near punished.
Then there are, alas, the smears. The portrait of Christopher Hitchens as an unreliable right-wing drunk is particularly vicious and dumb.
Awwwww. SId said something mean about my fwiend. I�ll fix him for that (Never mind that Sullivan doesn�t, apparently, deny it).
So is the evisceration of the late Mike Kelly, and vituperation directed at Mike Isikoff of Newsweek, Susan Schmidt of The Washington Post and other actual journalists.
For what? The lying and prevarication they actually did?
Mr. Blumenthal was obsessed with the enemy, and together with his new sidekick, the Gollum-like David Brock, he was determined to drive them crazy and fight them �to the death.�
Can�t get away without the grautitous little dig at Brock, can you?
And in a contest between the duplicitous Clinton and the puritanical Starr, the country and the Senate were absolutely right to back Mr. Clinton.
This from a man who wrote TNR�s main piece urging Clinton to resign ...
That�s why, in the end, this book is worth reading. It�s brutally revealing about the stupidity, bigotry, malevolence and extremism of the right-wing forces that became obsessed with President Clinton. I�m glad they ultimately lost.
Without any help from you to that end ...
posted by Sully 5/15/2003 11:48:00 PM
THE PROPER CONTEXT:
No More Mister Nice Blog tells us what Margaret Thatcher didn�t.
posted by Sully 5/15/2003 11:18:00 PM
WHAT? ME WORRY?:
Yep, all these bad stories from Iraq always turn out to be not as bad as we thought at first.
posted by Sully 5/15/2003 11:15:00 PM
... AND STILL GOING HIGHER ...:
If anybody cares, the word count is now up to 5,500
AT HIS IDEA OF A �GREAT� PAPER:
Atrios tells us that the The Washington Post has been losing circulation pretty steadily.
THIS IS JOURNALISTIC MISCONDUCT, TOO:
Did Judith Miller make up her story about Iraqi WMDs, too? Seems like she'd be better off saying she had.
posted by Sully 5/15/2003 11:08:00 PM
TIDE TURNING? NOT QUITE:
From the same Arab News editorial:
There is much in US policy to condemn; there are many aspects of Western society that offend � and where necessary, Arab governments condemn.
Nope, don�t bet they�re suddenly going to see the wisdom of invading Iraq just because someone finally blew up a bomb in Riyadh.
posted by Sully 5/15/2003 05:23:00 PM
STANDARDS? WHAT STANDARDS?:
Hmm. Sully said a long time ago he was not a fan of Coulter�s, yet he runs off and quotes her like nothing ever happened between them when she says something nasty about Pinch Sulzberger?
posted by Sully 5/15/2003 05:16:00 PM
TAPped and The Horse agree that Cavuto�s response to Krugman did far more damage to his reputation than the original quote did.
posted by Sully 5/15/2003 05:08:00 PM
HE RESPONDS ... BUT THEN TAKES IT BACK:
As expected, Sully has come back out swinging against big bad Jack Shafer.
We�ll get to his defense/non-defense of his conduct in the Shalit affair in a later post. But other than that, the crux of Sullivan�s counterargument originally was that Shafer had been spinning relentlessly for Raines since he took over.
That was what was on the blog last night. We had prepared to write a response noting several times in which Shafer had been rather critical of Raines, most notably over Augusta.
But a funny thing happened since yesterday evening. The sentence saying that Shafer had been spinning for Raines is now conspicuous by its absence.
How neat. Perhaps before Google or archive.org can cache it.
When, oh when, is Sullivan going to get called in some forum other than this, Eschaton and the Rittenhouse Review for his constant stealth corrections? This is every bit as bad as what Blair did. Shafer? Signorile? Conason? Where are you?
Also missing is a passage in which The Blog Queen claimed that his criticism of Raines was not related to his being pushed out of his magazine gig. That�s true, but perhaps he deleted it in full consciousness that anyone perusing his archive finds that his criticism became markedly meaner after he got sacked. He knows damn well that even if it didn�t have anything to do with his dismissal when he started, it sure does now.
posted by Sully 5/15/2003 08:23:00 AM
TEMPER TANTRUM OF THE DAY (YESTERDAY):
Sullivan has done a poor job persuading anybody that he has standards where his obsession with Paul Krugman is concerned (Or indeed that he has standards for anything, but that�s another story).
He links to Fox News anchor Neil Cavuoto responding, �somewhat intemperately� (even Sully admits), to an aside in The Krugster�s last column, in which he quoted Cavuoto as telling his viewers around the time of Baghdad�s liberation that antiwar protesters are and were �sickening.�
Go read it. Does Cavuoto deny the quote? No. Does he incoherently ramble on? Yes.
He somehow claims that he�s never hidden the fact that he has a viewpoint, and then somehow twists this into a suggestion that Krugman is doing the Times� dirty work in beating up on antiwar journalists and commentators (how does that explain William Safire?).
Butbutbut. Krugman�s point, which we think even Cavuoto is intelligent enough to see if he didn�t have condom-thin skin, was that his employer uses the slogan �Fair and balanced.� Thus one imagines that commentary, as that indisputably was, in the midst of a news report doesn�t jibe.
Perhaps, as has been suggested elsewhere, Fox is using its sloganeering to mock the purported bias of the rest of the media, in some sort of mocking postmodernistic way, rather like those Third World dictatorships that called themselves things like "The People�s Free Democratic Republic of ...� But even if, Cavuoto should have known better than to write that response.
And Sullivan shouldn�t have graced it with a link, either. For Cavuoto�s sake, at least.
posted by Sully 5/15/2003 08:09:00 AM
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
TRULY AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:
The Jayson Blair feeding frenzy should not be allowed to end before everyone acknowledges what Roger Ailes reminds us of ... namely, that it was a Mexican-American graduate of the very same NYT minority intern program who wrote the San Antonio Express News story which Blair plagiarized that finally got him caught out.
posted by Sully 5/13/2003 11:17:00 PM
WE SAY IT HERE AND IT COMES OUT THERE:
Slate�s Jack Shafer gives Sullivan a well-deserved shiv in the ribs, first brilliantly appropriating the classic trope of Bush defenders ... namely, a reminder that the current head guy has only been in charge so long:
But would the denunciations be so personal and vociferous if Saint Joseph Lelyveld, who approved the promotion of Jayson Blair to reporter, were still Times editor?
Then he lets the Blog Queen have it where it counts:
Divorcing the week�s attacks from Raines� personality and back story is fairly impossible. No small part of Andrew Sullivan�s animus, for example, derives from the passive-aggressive fashion in which Raines cast him from his New York Times Magazine slot. (Note to managers everywhere: When you let somebody go, let them go with a smile, a handshake, and a wad of cash wrapped in a non-disclosure agreement.)
The Sullivan blog�s serial maiming of Raines isn�t just payback, of course. The Raines regime deserves much of its dressing down. But when Sullivan goes on and on about how the Blair scandal isn�t about �an overwhelmed, twenty-something young reporter� but �how he wasn't stopped, and despite crystal-clear warnings, was actually promoted at the behest of the highest authorities in the place: Gerald Boyd and Howell Raines,� one can only offer two words: Ruth Shalit. As editor of the New Republic in the mid-�90s, Sullivan protected and defended the young Shalit in an almost identical fashion as she sloppily cribbed and plagiarized again and again after being busted in public again and again. (See Lisa Depaulo�s definitive feature in the February/March 1996 George for all the incriminating details.) Of Boyd and Raines, Sullivan writes, �They weren�t just AWOL for this calamity; they compounded and magnified it, by promoting Blair again and again, despite their own editors� ferocious objections and a fast-accumulating record of inaccuracy and deception.� Talk about glass houses!
Ouch! This is the most pointed language Shafer�s used on Sullivan since his �good-natured� (Sullivan�s term at the time; it was actually anything but) lashing of Sullivan�s first attempt to �flood the zone� on Krugman�s Enron money. (It would be even better if Shafer had recognized the unintentional but timely pun in his last sentence with a well-placed capital letter. OK, as we�ve said Sullivan wasn�t really responsible for The Fabulist, but still ... one does wish Michael Kelly was still alive to squirm uncomfortably trying to criticize Raines for this).
Then he nails it with this well-placed example:
One clue that the outrage has less to do with the crime committed on Raines� watch than schadenfreude can be found in the story of fabricator Christopher Newton. Last fall, the Associated Press fired Newton after learning he invented sources and quotations in at least 40 stories, an act of journalistic malfeasance equivalent to Blair�s. Who called for the resignation of the editor of AP or the heads of Newton�s editors? (Can you name the editor of the AP? I can�t, either.) Nobody cried for blood, as far as I know, even though the AP is as important a journalistic institution as the New York Times. Why the silence? It may be because nobody outside of the organization holds a grudge against the excellent but nameless wire artists who produce the AP.
Also relevant, but really too long and unwieldy to quote in this context, is the email Shafer got from a friend at USA Today who covered many of the same stories � and admits he, too, was fooled. As you read it, reflect on the email from the British tabloid writer who said Blair could never have gotten away with this on Fleet Street because the scooped competitors would have tattled to Private Eye.
Shafer is one of the few critics of Sullivan who can force Smalltown Boy to respond. This should be fun to watch.
ADDENDUM: It is worth noting, re Shalit, that she was the one with the problem and not TNR. She is one of the rare people to get a second chance after a debacle like this and then go back, Jack, and do it again.
posted by Sully 5/13/2003 11:06:00 PM
TIME OUT FOR FUN:
Perhaps the last word on Blair should be this coffee-on-the monitor spoof of the Times correction of the Blair stories by (who else?) Neal Pollack.
posted by Sully 5/13/2003 04:15:00 PM
Aside from TAPped�s revisiting of Sully�s sins as TNR editor, we must also note that today�s angle on Raines � that he�s the new broom arrogantly sweeping clean � should ring a little uncomfortable for Sullivan, who after taking over from Kinsley forced out veteran political types like Morton Kondracke in favor of young up-and-comers like Shalit and Glass.
posted by Sully 5/13/2003 04:06:00 PM
WHO REALLY NEEDS TO LEARN A LESSON FROM THE BLAIR AFFAIR:
Looking back over the facts, and the increasingly disgusting obsession with the idea that Blair was promoted and coddled despite his misgivings purely because he was African-American, we have yet more to say.
Favoritism was indeed shown Blair. But, as even Smalltown Boy has to admit, not because he was black but for another reason.
All the stories are in agreement on one basic point: Blair worked hard. He came in early. He stayed late. He seemed to be devoting a great deal of time and personal energy to his work and (much like Stephen Glass before him) gave his coworkers the impression that he was trying hard to epitomize the ideals of his profession. And his reporting apparently showed the benefits of this. Even when he did falter, he seemed to respond to discipline and improve.
Blair would have seemed, to any conservative eyes looking at him at work in the newsroom a few months ago, to be the epitome of the model minority, the black man who doesn�t complain about the Man keeping him down but just rolls up his sleeves and goes to work. You know, just like Colin Powell.
Now, of course, to read the Kauses and Sullivans and Freepers of the world, you could be forgiven for getting the impression that he showed up for work in a do-rag with loose-fitting pants exposing the tops of his boxers, greeted Sullivan�s least favorite editor with �Yo, Raines-man, what up?� and smoked crack with Boyd on their now-legendary breaks.
But, of course, he wasn�t. In fact, as one commentator over at CalPundit (or somewhere, anyway) who claims some personal experience with Blair claims (we can�t find the post right now), he was �a conservative-libertartian asshole.� Sullivan�s type of guy, it would seem.
If Blair was the beneficiary of any type of race-related preference, it was not for simply being black but rather because he was so good at acting white.
Sullivan then throws in some red herring about this Polish woman who works on the Times� photo desk and is thus friendly with Howell�s current wife, also Polish.
For two reasons, we have to ask: What is the point? The item is long on gossip and short (as in, containing zilch) in news value.
First, the mere existence of a connection would prove nothing, even if he were trying to prove something. According to the Times�s own account, Blair directly courted the man at the top. He didn�t need to use a girlfriend and wife as a go-between.
Second, Sullivan seems to intimate that it was through this connection that Blair got the necessary access to photos to pretend he had been places he hadn�t been.
Well, we don�t know how it works at the Times but at most newspapers, reporters have that kind of access to begin with. Or at least such can be found on a free computer terminal in the newsroom. It makes journalistic sense, after all ... even if reporters don�t have any say in what art accompanies their work (and they usually don�t), they are often called upon to identify people and places in them.
Other than its salacity, we really can�t see how this further illuminates the story.
posted by Sully 5/13/2003 03:13:00 PM
FORGET IT, SULLY, YOU WILL NEVER DARKEN THE DOORS OF 221 WEST 43RD AGAIN:
Jim Capozzola returns from his weeklong absence with not only a welcome plug for this blog but a word count that shows he has written almost half as much on Blair as the Times has.
And that�s not even counting today�s posts, which by our count via copy-and-paste to MS Word, where the Word Count feature was used, including heds and quoted material, adds another 642 words to bring Jim�s total to 3,772 (UPDATE: As of 4 p.m. EST it�s slightly over 3,900).
He and Sully agree on one thing ... it�s not over yet.
Unfortunate, because another football metaphor suggests itself:
To any reasonable observer, Sullivan�s reaction is excessive, though I suspect he would protest otherwise, and it is embarrassing, though I�m all but certain he hasn�t a clue why.
Jim also has, immediately afterwards, a great post on the neocons� sudden disavowal of the influence and control they have indisputably achieved over the administration and for years openly boasted of seeking. Check it out.
posted by Sully 5/13/2003 03:01:00 PM
MORE THINGS TO DRAW ATTENTION TO:
Via Atrios we learn that Joe Conason has shown that then-Times EE Joe Lelyveld still hasn�t got his facts straight on Whitewater.
But don�t look for Sullivan to bolster his case against the Times with this.
posted by Sully 5/13/2003 11:18:00 AM
WARTS AND SCABS AND ALL:
Atrios reminds us of the things Sullivan considers to be part of his journalistic legacy, that give him the right to feel superior to Howell Raines.
posted by Sully 5/13/2003 11:16:00 AM
Think this might have something to do with giving Lee Siegel his latest �Poseur Award�?
posted by Sully 5/13/2003 11:13:00 AM
Monday, May 12, 2003
TBogg on Sullivan�s glee:
If you going to take the time to read all of Andrew Sullivan's outrage about the Jayson Blair affair, keep one thing in mind:
Andy Sullivan was fired by the New York Times and he hates Howell Raines with a the white hot intensity of a million suns.
Sullivan would bitch about the Times if they failed to run Marmaduke.
His views, which you will see are just short of hysterical, are as tainted as the last Presidential election. He�s just using the Blair affair as a respite from the moral complexities of defending/attacking Rick Santorum and Bill Bennett. The last few weeks have been a dizzying affair for the boy, and nothing quite clarifies the mind like sheer unadulterated and focused hatred, and, when it comes to Howell Raines, it doesn�t take much for Andy to turn into a spurned 14-year old girl.
Actually, Sullivan�s Raines rage is more like that of 45-year-old divorc�e. But otherwise Tom got him cold.
posted by Sully 5/12/2003 03:25:00 PM
THE NEW YORK TIMES MISCONDUCT HE WON�T TALK ABOUT:
Josh Marshall on the Grey Lady�s immaculate silence on the political affiliations of Katrina Leung.
Will he complain about this? Or take his place in the Blue Wall?
Bill Bennett would bet on the former, and so would we.
posted by Sully 5/12/2003 03:19:00 PM
BUT WHAT IF STEPHEN GLASS HAD BEEN A GENTILE? OR, MORE TO THE POINT, RUTH SHALIT?:
Kevin Drum responds to race-based criticism of Jayson Blair:
In just the last few weeks, in addition to the Blair meltdown, the LA Times has fired a photographer for digitally enhancing a photograph, two reporters at the Salt Lake City Tribune have been fired for selling made-up rumors to the National Enquirer, and disgraced liar Stephen Glass released his autobiographical novel about his exploits at the New Republic.
Quick, what color were the skins of these reporters?
This is ridiculous. Blair was an accomplished liar and suckup, and the Times screwed up badly in not noticing earlier that something fishy was going on. (They didn�t even notice that none of his expense accounts included plane tickets or hotel bills? Sheesh.) But when Glass did the same thing at the New Republic nobody ran stories suggesting that we ought to be more careful about hiring white guys in the future.
Why is it that when one � one! � black con artist scams the Times he�s a black con artist, but when white con artists scam the New Republic, the LA Times, and the Salt Lake City Tribune, they�re just � con artists? Funny how that works.
And see Neal Pollack�s instant-classic repression-free take on Sullivan�s reaction to this. While you�re there, his take on Sully defending Bennett is pretty good, too:
Remember, he never moralized against gambling, except when he was moralizing against gambling. His gambling problem, as far as we know, never led him to beat up a prostitute. We should just ignore his �hypocrisies,� as the left is hypocritically calling them, and instead purchase a copy of his new book, A Child's Treasury Of Tips For Avoiding Masturbation.
(If you really want to see where this was an issue, check out Ben Bradlee�s memoirs on the Cooke scandal. He basically admits that he rushed her through the hiring process because he didn�t want to risk losing such a talented black female reporter. Again, simply calling Vassar up to confirm her (fictitious) diploma would have ended that affair with much less egg on the paper�s face).
We�d add to Kevin that what seems to be a common thread in the Glass and Blair stories was: if you�re going to confabulate, don�t plagiarize. Glass never ripped anyone off ... in fact, he bolstered his reputation for integrity by his constant complaining about Ruth Shalit�s sloppy work (which, remember, Sullivan, actually got The New Republic sued). Blair was less circumspect than Glass ... never faking notes but similarly relying on technology to fool his older editors.
Friendly advice, not that anyone�s going to take it: The Times should, in the future, set up a practice whereby all copy is screened and compared against Nexis before publication. Fabrication, as Sully admits, is not easy to catch. But there�s no excuse for letting plagiarists get away with it in an Internet age (and the Times has caught and punished its own plagiarists before, like Fox Butterfield).
Likewise, the miscommunication between departments wasn�t between the newsroom as it was between the newsroom and the bean-counting desk. People reviewing expense accounts should be encouraged to check those statements against the stories published by the actual reporter ... not only is this sound auditing practice to begin with, it again would have stopped Blair before he got this far.
posted by Sully 5/12/2003 03:10:00 PM
ALRIGHT, ENOUGH ALREADY:
Sullivan, we think you�ve made your point.
Nevertheless, at least one thing bears pointing out.
As the Times�s own excellent in-house investigation demonstrated, and as we think has been overlooked in the rush to blame this on affirmative action, a key element of this unintentional conspiracy was �few complaints from the subjects of his articles.�
In other words, even when he made egregious mistakes, none of the people he made them about cared. What if Jessica Lynch�s family hadn�t been amused but indignant at his fanciful, clich�-ridden depiction of their mountain lodgins? Blair might have been caught earlier (Of course, this did happen in the sniper case, but in the case Blair had to know that when official sources denounce your facts, it makes it sound even truer, no matter how implausible).
Readers, this is why it is important to bring inaccuracies in newspaper stories to the paper�s attention. Or any medium.
posted by Sully 5/12/2003 11:18:00 AM
OUR FIRST DEAD-TREE MEDIA MENTION:
It wasn�t much, but Ted Como, managing editor of the Kingsport, Tenn., Times-News includes us in a list of his regular reads in a column on blogs and blogging (registration required).
Thanks a lot, Ted!
posted by Sully 5/12/2003 12:23:00 AM
POTS AND KETTLES:
Atrios on Sullivan�s hypocritical claims on Bill Bennett�s privacy.
posted by Sully 5/12/2003 12:14:00 AM
STILL DID YA ONE BETTER:
Smalltown Boy can harp all he wants (as has Mickey Kaus) on whether Blair�s being African-American had anything to do with upper management�s willingness to overlook his error-ridden reportage. However, the fact still remains that The New York Times, like The Washington Post but unlike The New Republic, has actually hired black reporters.
posted by Sully 5/12/2003 12:10:00 AM
HE SHOULD TALK:
Sorry, long weekend off.
Sullivan can be as right as he wants to be about Blair. But mentioning Glass is really playing fast and loose.
Glass got away with what he got away with almost exclusively because of the late Michael Kelly. The issue there isn�t that Charles Lane was a hero (he didn�t take the initiative in suspecting Glass; that fell to other publications that then alerted Lane); it�s that Michael Kelly made it necessary for him to be.
And Sully�s British correspondent should hold his tongue. The tradition of fabricating stories is much livelier and much more respected amongst the British press (see Cockburn, Claud and any number of tabloid stories about various celebrities) and if the offending reporter were to be �grassed out� to Private Eye, it would seem like sour grapes, as doubtless the offending reporter would want it to be (In fact, in the present case the Washington Post did pretty much do that to Blair on the sniper stories, and he predictably spun it as the Post getting back at him for getting beat in its own backyard).
And no, Sully, Raines was still right to bar you. Whatever else Blair did, he never sold his journalistic soul to a major industry he might be writing about.
And even saying �I think Howell Raines has behaved impeccably in response to this,� (cut that one out and frame it) isn�t going to get you your job back. Not as long as there�s that critique of your horridly sloppy work on that Alaska climate graph of last summer (see our blogroll under Greatest Hits).
When Sullivan starts selling T-shirts with this picture on it, or allowing people to introduce him as �The one, the only ... Cap-taaaaaaain BAAAAAARE-BAAAAAAAACK!!!!" at speeches, then he can start ragging on Naomi Wolf for not letting herself be victim to a cruel practical joke. But not until.
Maybe, just maybe, Pollitt won because she did quality writing of the sort that doesn�t boil down to �I like to get really fucking drunk and betray my lifelong friends and every cause I have ever supported just to attract attention to myself"?
See Media Whores Online for another take on just why Hitchens might not merit such a prestigious award (an award which, BTW, was won by TNR under Sullivan�s editorship for an article attacking the Clinton health care plan that was so misleading even Mickey Kaus was using it for cotton candy, by a writer whose chief accomplishment since then has been getting dumped from the ticket as lieutenant governor of New York and then failing to win the Democratic primary):
�A case in point,� continued the Times chronicle, �was the night of Blumenthal�s birthday party, the November before Clinton�s impeachment crisis, when [Hitchens] and [his wife] Carol umm-ed and ah-ed about whether it was hypocritical to attend. In the event they did, and Hitchens spent a miserable evening on the deck in the freezing cold, refusing to go inside. �A pathetic compromise,� as he says. The house was full of Clinton people who were clearly surprised to see one of the president�s most persistent critics among their number. �And I thought, �Oh well, the unspoken question I can see in your eyes is a very fair one, and I�ve only just begun to really face it myself.��
But the �freezing cold� deck was nicely heated; the bartender hadn�t needed to wear a jacket.
posted by Sully 5/12/2003 12:06:00 AM