Archive: July, 2010
I'm otherwise occupied today, but I'll return on Monday. In the meantime, I highly recommend this commentary piece from the American Journalism Review website. I couldn't agree more, especially with this wryly understated passage:
"The opportunity to launch brutal assaults from the safety of a computer without attaching a name does wonders for the bravery levels of the angry."
This post was updated late in the day.
Today's predominant Washington acronym is WWCD. As in, "What Will Charlie Do?"
In a conference call with reporters the other day, Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission, said that the Senate Republicans should remain true to their convictions concerning a key facet of campaign finance reform. After all, the proposed DISCLOSE Act would require that special interests reveal the names of the backstage deep-pocket donors who will bankroll the election-season political ads - and it's the Republicans who have long said that they support the credo of full disclosure.
Potter, a Republican who was appointed to the FEC by the first President Bush, said on the phone that the DISCLOSE Act would at least mitigate the worst damage wreaked on the political process by the U.S. Supreme Court's recent horrific decision to permit virtually unlimited special interest spending in federal elections. Under the proposed reform law, he said, at least the public would know "who is doing that spending" - which is better than having a flood of autumn ads sponsored by mysterious front groups with nebulous names, "something like 'Paid for by Americans for a Better Country,' and you have no idea who that is or who actually paid for those ads."
If only Daniel Schorr had remained healthy a little longer, he would've been afforded the opportunity to weigh in on the WikiLeaks/Afghanistan story. And he surely would've relished doing so. To borrow a baseball term, that story was right in his wheelhouse.
Schorr, who died Friday after 93 years on earth and 60 years in journalism, was one of the last links to the pre-Internet golden age of two-fisted broadcasting, which is why he rates a special mention here. During his long career, particularly at CBS News and at National Public Radio, he crafted a well-earned reputation as a combative reporter and analyst who bucked governmental authority in the service of the truth. He ferreted out the real story, often aided by leakers on the inside. He shared his findings with the public, and, most admirably of all, he couldn't have cared less who got ticked off.
After last week's brain-dead distractions - notably, the faux Breitbart-Sherrod story that triggered yet another round of national name-calling ("Youse a racist!" "No, youse a racist!") - it's a perverse relief to begin a new week with a dominant story that is actually serious and substantive, particularly since it concerns the status and future of our war in Afghanistan.
The 92,000 classified military documents released yesterday by the antiwar website WikiLeaks.org - and reported this morning by The New York Times and several western European newspapers after weeks of vetting and cross-checking - strongly suggest that the realities on the ground have been far worse than what the Washington spinners in two administrations served up to the public during the six years between 2004 and 2009.
I proudly consider myself to be the only Fourth Estate denizen who has yet to weigh in on the brouhaha concerning JournoList, the now-defunct listserv where roughly 400 liberal pundits, reporters, bloggers, and academics communed with each other online. This has become a big issue lately, at least in the usual overheated right-wing precincts, thanks to Tucker Carlson’s Daily Call website, which has alleged that JournoList was proof of a vast left-wing conspiracy to control public discourse – an hilarious concept, given the fact that (and I'm speaking from experience) a quartet of journalists standing in a hotel lobby generally can’t even agree on where to go for dinner.
Was I a card-carrying JournoLister, a foot soldier in the alleged cabal organized by Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein? Not a chance. Even if I had been invited to join (which I wasn’t), I would have declined. I instinctively value my independence; when a journalist joins a group, over time he or she risks being exposed to group think.
The odds are high that when Americans hear the term "special relationship," they probably conjure images of a famous couple. Brad and Angelina. Franklin and Eleanor. John and Yoko. Liz and Dick. Bristol and Levi. Don and Betty Draper.
But I'm referring to the long institutional marriage between Britain and America, and the term first coined by Winston Churchill during his wartime alliance with FDR. The spouses keep changing - the latest duo, David Cameron and Barack Obama, met stateside for the first time on Tuesday - but one tradition remains inviolate. There is an ongoing obsession (especially among the Brits) about the vitality of the relationship, and the power balance between the partners.
At the risk of ignoring the big national story of the moment - Lindsay Lohan has begun her 90-day jail stint - I want to bring up the Georgia gubernatorial race. Have you nodded off yet? Don't. Here's the eye candy:
The contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination has become a proxy fight between two potential '12 presidential aspirants, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. My conclusion is impossible to refudiate.